When bee season in New York City begins in early spring, that means retired police detective (and unofficial NYPD beekeeper) Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis gets busy tending to his hives and rescuing swarms.

Tony Bees didn’t always love bees. In fact, it took a long time for his beekeeper father to convince him of their beauty. Ultimately, Tony became enamored with honey bees and even has a tattoo dedicated to his affection for them. He says it’s in his blood; he’s a fourth generation beekeeper whose family hails from Crete.

At StoryCorps, Anthony talked about what drew him to working with bees, and what he’s learned from them.

Planakisdiptych

Tony retired from the NYPD in 2014. He now works as a private consultant and contractor removing hives and swarms all over the New York City region.

Originally aired June 2, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Police Officer Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis from the 114th Precinct works on the removal of beehive in a tree on 13th Avenue and 45th Street in Brooklyn, circa 1995. (Photo by Ken Murray/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Bottom Photos: Tony Bees shows off his bee-themed tattoos. The scroll reads in Latin: “Go to the honeybee, thy poet, consider her ways and be wise.”