New York City is buzzing, and it's not about the season's hot new Broadway show. No, the Big Apple is unexpectedly full of bees, which have caused a dramatic rise in emergency swarm calls to the police, the New York Times reports.
New York has one cop who responds to emergency calls about bee swarms. Officer Anthony Planakis tells the Times he has already responded to 31 calls in NYC's five boroughs so far this year, more than double the number from last year. One recent call took him to a South Street Seaport restaurant where he used a vacuum to suck up 17,500 swarming bees that were bothering patio diners.
Although bees are on the decline around the country due to colony collapse disorder, bees aren't scarce this year in New York. Planakis said some of the blame might lie with the rising number of beekeepers in New York City, which lifted its ban on backyard hives in 2010. Nearly 200 hives have been registered with the city, but the actual number may be at least twice that high. The organization New York City Beekeeping recently sent out a reminder on Facebook that all hives must be registered annually.
It's not just home beekeepers getting in on the act. The Waldorf-Astoria New York has six hives and 20,000 bees on its roof. The hotel, which lets visitors sign up for tours of the hives, plans to harvest honey and hopes the bees will pollinate local plants, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. New York City Beekeeping recently installed a hive at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel, and was on hand when another hive at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine was blessed by the Episcopal bishop of New York.
One expert told the Times that several other factors may be partially responsible for this year's high bee count. Last winter was the fourth-warmest on record, so fewer bees died during the colder months. Meanwhile, spring sprung early, so there have been more flowers and plants to attract nectar-hungry hives.
The swarms may be alarming, but they haven't caused any major injuries. And besides, it's National Pollinator Week, "an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles." Events promoting pollination and the plight of bees are taking place around the country, including lectures, zoo tours and outdoor celebrations.