Police officers often respond to calls about wild animals endangering the public. In New York City, citizens are unlikely to encounter a rogue moose or bear, but they’re frequently plagued by honeybees — to the point where the NYPD has its own unit of beekeepers tasked with removing swarms.
According to the department, as the summer season got underway, the unit recently responded to several calls about large colonies infesting multiple sites across the city, including Times Square and the World Trade Center.
In late June, “NYPD Bees was called in to safely remove 2,000 bees from a restaurant seating area near the crossroads of the world,” aka Times Square, NYPD News tweeted. The agency assured the public that the insects would be relocated to an area with ample opportunities for them to pollinate.
A month earlier, the unit relocated an even larger swarm found near the Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan. “There was quite a buzz late last night at 3 World Trade Center as 8,000 honeybees swarmed the side of the building,” NYPD News reported on Twitter. The bees were later transported to an apple orchard.
Officers also recently cleaned out a huge bee colony from a tree in Queens. The Twitter account “NYPD Bees” said that beekeepers successfully “removed and rehomed” around 15,000 honeybees from the hive in the Big Apple borough.
The specialized unit was founded in 2010 after beekeeping was legalized in the city and bee swarms became more prevalent. Officers trained in beekeeping use a vacuum to gently suck up the insects and contain them prior to transport.
On an appearance on The Today Show in 2019, officers said they receive an average of four to five calls a week during swarm season, which lasts from mid-May to mid-July in New York, according to Cornell University.