Previous DISCUSSION panelists

honeybee fest 2016

Anthony PLanakis (Tony Bees)

Retired NYPD Detective, Beekeeper
and Swarm Catcher

For two decades Detective Anthony Planakis was the NYPD’s “official” guy for all things bee-related in New York City. By 2004, he’d collected enough city swarms that he was known among his fellow officers as “Tony Bees.” There is not a place he hasn’t recovered a swarm from and after so many years of incredible public service he decided to retire from the force in 2014. As a lifelong beekeeper, Anthony started keeping bees in the early 70’s and has traced his family’s Greek heritage of beekeeping back to ancient times. Despite being stung countless times while in the line of duty his love and respect for bees has only grown deeper. For him, bees have become a way of life, an extended family and an endless source of inspiration.

Photo Credit: Michael Mundy

Photo Credit: Michael Mundy

Kelley edkins

Beekeeper, Gardener and Founder of

Kelley has been cultivating medicinal herbs, native plants, and endangered species for more than two decades in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Her organic farm, Honeybee Herbs, focuses on plants that provide food for honeybees, as well as plants that are endangered species. She sells the herbal and honeybee produce from her farm and gardens at local farmer’s markets and festivals in the North East area. Kelley has provided years of volunteer work teaching gardening for local school systems and community organizations as well as developing countless garden installations. Most important to Kelley is her connection with her honeybees, their conservation drives both the content of her gardens and indeed her very existence.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

CHris Harp

Beekeeper, Founder of

Chris Harp is an organic beekeeper, beekeeping teacher, and “Bee Doctor” with 27 years of beekeeping experience. Harp is a consultant on hive health for troubled colonies and concerned beekeepers. He is a co-founder of HoneybeeLives and has been teaching beekeeping for 15 years in small classes.Harp's naturalist and biodynamic methods, and unique hive designs, have developed from his many years of working with, and listening to, honeybees, as well as having studied with Gunther Hauk at the Pfeiffer Center for Biodynamic Agriculture.He was a consultant for the CNG (Certified-Naturally-Grown) Apiary Standards for their Certification Program and the ensuing publication Handbook for Natural Beekeeping.

Photo Credit: Meg Paska

Photo Credit: Meg Paska

Meg Paska

Beekeeper, Farmer and Author of The Rooftop Beekeeper

A founding member of the New York City Honey Week, Meg moved from Brooklyn, NY in the summer of 2012 with her partner Neil to Monmouth County, NJ to start a farm of their own. There, they grow nearly an acre of vegetables, herbs and flowers. They also keep bees, raise dairy goats for home milk consumption and goat’s milk soaps and maintain a flock of nearly 100 heritage-breed chickens for eggs and insect control. They also operate a CSA, feeding about 45 families and attend farmer’s markets in Sea Bright and Asbury Park, NJ.Meg has incredible first hand knowledge of beekeeping and its importance to farming and sustainable living.

Photo Credit:  Cindy Schultz

Photo Credit: Cindy Schultz

Paul Cappy

Beekeeper and NY State Apiculturist, Department of Agriculture and Markets

A native of Homer in Cortland County, Paul has been the state apiculturist — or bee expert — since taking the post in 2007. The lifelong beekeeper joined the division as a program director in 2001. He oversees inspection of the state's approximately 50 commercial beekeepers, who own about 42,0000 colonies containing more than a billion bees. Those keepers produce about 3 million pounds of honey a year, and also transport about 36,000 colonies within New York and to other states between April and September to pollinate a variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Cappy's office certifies that the hives are healthy and disease-free. Paul also holds a degree from Cornell University in business and apiary science.