When Anthony Planakis was going through the New York Police Academy, they told him to write his interests down on a little card.
“Beekeeping, of course I put that down,” says 54-year-old Planakis, who is a fourth generation beekeeper. “And the very first job, the sergeant comes right up to me and I just look up and go, ‘Hey, Sarge,’ and he goes, ‘Bees?’ and I go, ‘Yeah, where?’ ‘Harlem.’ And I go, ‘Cool.’ That was it, that was the first job I handled,” he says.
And that’s how he became the department’s unofficial beekeeper starting in 1995, earning him the nickname Tony Bees. Planakis has been handling hives for 40 years and keeps them in his backyard in Queens and on a property in Connecticut.
“Whenever I’m working a swarm, I hear nothing around me,” he says. “I mean you can have a jackhammer running down below and I wouldn’t even hear it. I’m in the perfect world now. Actually that’s the only time I feel safe. I’m never scared, never afraid. So, uh, I think it’s in my blood.”
“So, I’ve learned from the bees patience, respect, you know and I guess work ’til you die.”