The Big Apple has a big bee problem

Photo : Public domain
A swarm of honeybees.

Level 2

Spring came. The flowers were out. And so were the bees.
And bees are now a problem in New York City.
New York is called The Big Apple.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has a “bee man”.
He gets a lot of calls in The Big Apple.

Who is the bee man?
The NYPD calls Anthony Planakis when there is a problem with bees.
Planakis is a policeman. And he loves bees.
He has helped the NYPD and people in New York City for 18 years.
But the NYPD called the bee-man 30 times this spring!

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Why do people call him?
In the spring, a queen honeybee is reproducing.
This means the hive where the bees live is healthy.
A hive can have 20,000 buzzing bees in it.
Soon it gets too crowded. So, a group of bees will move out with their queen.
Sometimes two groups move. They look for a new place to live.
They form a cluster or close group called a swarm and wait.
There can be 7,000 to 8,000 bees in a cluster.

People and swarms
Planakis knows the bees in a swarm are not dangerous.
The bees are waiting for one of their scouts.
The scouts fly off and look for new homes.
These scouts will fly up to 5 miles away.
Then they return and lead the group to the new place.
Planakis last year removed 2 kg of bees from a tree near a shopping mall.
Sometimes he uses a special box for the bees.
He also rescued a family in their car. The family’s car had 10,000 bees on it.

One swarm stayed in a tree near a shop. People stayed away from the shop.
Another swarm was hanging outside the door of a grocery store.
A fire hydrant had 17,000 bees buzzing around it.

Why does New York have a problem?
In 2010, New York City passed a new law.
The law allows people to keep bees.  Before 2010,
there were three hives in the city. Now there are 161 hives.
These hives are on the tops of homes and hotels.
Planakis says, “ There are too many hives right now.”
Beekeeping is becoming more and more popular.
But Planakis says it will be more and more difficult
to control those bees.