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Battle of the Bees

chandigarh Updated: Mar 02, 2009 18:07 IST
Satyen Mohapatra
Satyen Mohapatra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Battle of the Bees is on in Chandigarh today.

As incidents of honey bee stings with their poisnous barbs increase , the Chandigarh Municipality is determined to displace the honey bees by stamping out their hives.

A senior official of the Public Health Department told HT from Chandigarh, " We are taking the help of fire brigade and engineering department to dismantle the bee hives where bees can harm people. Yesterday, we received 71 complaints and have already disposed of 56 them. Our pest control unit with an entomologist also on the job."

The Muncipal Corporation of Chandigarh has opened "helpline" where residents can lodge complaints .

During last one week 41 students are reported to have been stung in a school, 15 persons at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science and Research, several of whom had to be either hospitalized or given first aid.

Last year a 35 year old engineer had succumbed to his injuries after being attacked by bees at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences,Chandigarh.

Co ordinator of the All India Co ordinated Research Project on Honey Bees of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research S.K. Lakra talking to HT from Hissar said,"Death can also occur due to honey bee stings though in the rarerest of rare case if the person is hyper sensitive or if the amount of poison is more.

A strong supporter of bees as the only species which work completely for mankind, he says, "they are more useful as pollinators than honey producers. Spring is the time for pollination and as flowers are in abundance. Bees too have their breeding season,multiply hives, and have their most active period collecting nectar and pollen during this time."

He said, "Bees don't attack normally unless they are disturbed or someone throws a stone at their hive or attacks them - it is a defense mechanism.They use the sting only as the last resort because they die within one hour.Their hook shaped sting at the tip of their abdomen remains inserted in the skin of the person they attack, leaving a gaping hole in the abdomen, causing their death."

Where they sting they also create a strong evaporating volatile compound which other bees can smell and come to attack the same place,he said.

"As soon as bees notice any disturbance even of strong winds , the guard bees come out of the hive to survey what is the reason. Others soon follow suit and can travel in a swarm from half kilometer to a kilometer. Around sixty thousand to a lakh honey bees stay in a single hive in the wild."

The running helter skelter in panic , in colourful clothes can be most dangerous in front of bees.

Dr Lakra points out some steps to be taken if you are being attacked by a swarm of bees

1. Be calm
2. Don't run
3. Be completely motionless
4. Cover yourself with cloth
5. Lie down on the ground

The bees sense slightest of motions, so if you are still, the bees will just hover around your body and leave,he says.

Interestingly he pointed out bee venom is also useful as a medicine for joint pain, rheumatism and arthiritis and research work is being done to standardize it.