- Bees often swarm to new places when their hives become overcrowded, especially on humid summer days.
- In August, roughly 25,000 bees found a temporary home on a hot dog stand in Times Square. That’s when the NYPD sends out their elite unit of bee cops.
- Officer Darren Mays is one of two beekeepers who answer calls to save misplaced bees across New York City.
- Mays keeps up to 40,000 rescued bees on the roof of the 104th precinct in Queens, NY and harvests 600 pounds of honey a year.
Officer Mays: I’ve been stung well over 400 times. No line of duty injury report. It’s just that you never get used to it.
Narrator: Meet the NYPD’s elite bee cop, Officer Darren Mays. He takes care of about 40,000 honeybees. They live on the roof of the 104th precinct in Queens. Normally, he’s a patrol officer on the night shift. But since 2014, he’s gotten dozens of calls to rescue New York’s lost bees.
Officer Mays: During the daytime I’m sleeping. And that’s when bees are swarming, usually I’m asleep. I wake up, make sure I make arrangements for my little one to get picked up from day care. Head in my car and head to the city. It’s a good rush. The adrenaline is a rush because you know you’re gonna get an audience. Once I get there it’s usually cordoned off with other officers waiting on my arrival.
And also have access to ESU to get me anything I need. If I need a power source to plug my vacuum into, they will get that for me. The generator, or hook it up to their truck where I can get power. A portion of it is made from a – from a regular vacuum. But it has components on it where you can adjust the suction vacuum on it, so you don’t destroy or kill the bees as they’re being suctioned in. They get suctioned into a box. It’s like a hive box with a cage on it that can be used for transport. Transport ’em to home or even at the rooftop apiary that I have here at my command. I’m the only cop that I know of in the police department or probably worldwide that has an apiary on their roof.
Narrator: Unofficially, cops have been filling the role since 1994. Today, Officer Mays is one of two cops on the NYPD’s bee unit.
Officer Lauriano: I’m known as the bee guy sometimes they will throw out Winnie the Pooh it’s all in good fun. They call us beekeepers but are we really beekeepers? They’re free to go wherever they want. We kind of just help them along the way. Give them a nice piece of real estate for them to have and it’s up to them what they want to do.
Officer Mays: The job that I do for the department, I guess it’s important because sometimes it depends on where the bees swarm. They can swarm onto a bicycle, a tree, hovering right above your head, on a building. And, New Yorkers, they walk kind of cluelessly and they can actually walk into a swarm without knowing and they could be stung so that’s why they call on us to remove them.
Officer Lauriano: Oh don’t be afraid of the honeybee. We need them in society. We need them in our environment. There’s nothing to be afraid of them. Officer Mays: I never was into honeybees, I never liked honey. So I had a friend named Rich who lives in Massachusetts.
Narrator: Officer Mays’ buddy Rich introduced him to beekeeping in 2007. And he was hooked. That Christmas, his wife bought him a kit and the rest is history. Now Officer Mays harvests about 600 pounds of honey each year.
Officer Mays: It’s ready to be extracted. Full frame here. We’re gonna take the cappings off the top. Put it through an extractor, filter it, bottle it. What I do is give it away to friends and family and a lot of my co-workers they’re willing to give me donations for the work that I put in because of my time and the equipment that I use. Everything is out of pocket so they give me donations for jars to offset the costs.
Officer Lauriano: They’re cute. They’re fuzzy, they fly around. They want to be around us. I want to be around them. And what I can say is I love ’em as much as New Yorkers and that’s a lot.
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