In light of the tragic passing of an elderly male, following his encounter with bees in the Caravel Beach area last week, owner of Bugs-or-Us Pest Control and Maintenance Service Lamont Evans, beekeeper, dispelled rumours circulating regarding ‘killer bees,’ noting that there is no such thing.
As he and his company were alerted of the incident by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, to investigate the matter regarding the 82-year-old male whom passed away in hospital following the unfortunate incident, Evans explained what he and his team encountered upon their arrival that fateful day.
“Last week Wednesday, August 7, we got a call from a department of the Grand Bahama Port Authority shortly after 2:00 p.m., concerning an incident in the Drumfish Area with some bees. One of the technicians, my son Nathan (Evans), went out to assist them. When we arrived there the ambulance and fire truck were there, but at a distance from the gentleman’s home.
“We went straight to them and asked them about the situation, where they informed us that a gentleman was reportedly stung by bees. They directed us to the home where the gentleman was; we put our veils on – not our whole suit – just the veil, walked towards the house which was when a neighbour informed us which house the gentleman was in,” recalled Evans.
As they entered the home, Evans shared that they met the elderly male laying down on the sofa. “We assisted him and told him that we had come to take him to the ambulance which, at that point, was waiting outside. He asked for some water, which we gave him and then told him that it was time to go to the ambulance. We lifted him up and took him to the ambulance.”
Evans was questioned whether or not the bees were still on the victim, at that time. He responded, “He had stingers on him. When a bee stings you, the only way a bee can defend itself is with hits stinger and that is the last resort that a bee will take, because once a bee stings you, it dies. Unlike a wasp, which can sting multiple times. And so, the last thing a bee wants to do is to sting an individual.
“Now, there are signs that a bee will give suggesting that you are getting too close to them or coming too close to the hive. Bees are very defensive when it comes to protecting their hives. Like everyone, if you come to close to my house I will question what you are doing in my yard; the same for a bee,” Evans explained.
“The way a bee communicates, that is, if you come too close to the hive where a bee is, she will fly into you and bump you as a warning. If you do not heed that warning, the last resort for her is to sting you. Once she stings you and her stinger gets inside of you, she then flies away, it rips open her abdomen and she dies.
“The stinger will then send off a pheromone scent to let the other bees in the hive know that we are under attack. Something is close to us that is not supposed to be here and they then follow the scent, and that is where you will see the bees coming.
“Once the bees smell that scent, they know that something is endangering their hive or too close to their hive; that is what they think and so, they come out to defend the hive,” explained the beekeeper.
“Apparently the man was doing some yard work, but where he was throwing the trash from the yard work was across the road from his house and unbeknownst to him there was a hive in the bush, inside a paint can.
“Again, bees will put their hives anywhere; once there is not a lot of disturbances, because they do not like too much traffic. Sometimes I go to homes where there are beehives in the boxing, for years, and the owners never knew because they never came in contact with the bees,” he noted.
“When he threw the yard trash in the bush, it disturbed the hive; bees are very sensitive. Any sound they hear they are coming out to investigate and so, when the guard bee came out to investigate the first thing she would have done was to bump him. Perhaps not knowing the protocol when it comes to that, he may have tried to swat or hit the bee. When you do that to a bee, it will automatically go into defense mode.
“Swatting a bee is a natural reflex for a human … to swipe their hand when in contact with a bee, but once he did that she will automatically sting him. Once the pheromone scent was released the remaining guard bees would come out, to protect the hive, and start stinging him as well,” explained Evans.
As it relates to the elderly man passing away following the bee attack, Evans added, it was not a question of the bees being killers, as it has been widely circulated in the public domain; but, maybe, rather a result of the victim’s age and health condition.
“He received too many stings. The stingers were in him pumping the venom and his age had a lot to do with his demise.
“We had an incident a couple of years ago not too far from the Ruby Swiss Restaurant, when a younger gentleman was stung multiple times, covered in bees, but he lived.
“Everything is predicated on your age, the condition you are in and if you have an allergic reaction to it. If anyone is stung, they will swell up. If the gentleman would have gotten into the house in time and they knew what to do … because they did not know what to do, the longer the stingers stayed in him it caused more damage. And so, his age had a factor and I believe they said he also had a heart condition.
“If one has a heart condition and experiences something like that, their heart rate will go up. When your heart rate increases and your blood is pumping, you are circulating that venom in your body and if your heart is not strong it will react in a different way because the venom in your body is not a part of your system.
“When a hive is in defensive mode, whatever movement is made, they will sting,” Evans reiterated.
In conclusion Evans stated, “Just respect the bees and remember that we need the bees to pollinate. We cannot go on a spree and try to eradicate all of the bees or we will be in problems.”