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Expert advises on what to do when confronted by bees after fatal bee stinging incident in Durban

The beehive was removed by the bee rescue team from the wall of a house in Newlands West, Durban. I Supplied.

The beehive was removed by the bee rescue team from the wall of a house in Newlands West, Durban. I Supplied.

Published Jan 17, 2022


DURBAN - A bee rescuer from Durban has revealed that bees are naturally non-aggressive but are highly defensive when they suspect a threat to their beehive.

Roger Byrne, founder of The Bee Rescuer, which specialises in bee rescue, spoke to the Daily News after 31-year old Brandon Pillay of Newlands West died recently from bee stings.

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Byrne, who has 20 years’ experience in dealing with bees, advised that if angry bees are encountered, one should flee and take shelter either indoors, inside a motor vehicle or anywhere the bees can’t reach.

He was called to a scene where Pillay and others were attacked by a swarm of bees.

He described the bees involved as mellifera scutellata, also known as African honey bees.

“By the time I was called out, the bees had largely settled down. I worked quickly to capture them and neutralise any further threat,” he said.

Byrne added that most bad outcomes are usually a result of inexperience and ignorance.

Brandon Pillay died after being stung by bees in Newlands West, Durban. I Supplied.

He said: “Bees are not aggressive creatures, but they are highly defensive and will defend their home if a threat is perceived.”

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Bees make their home in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, such as inside hollow trees, under baths, old tyres, holes in walls and roof cavities, he explained.

“Once in, they require physical removal; a specialist job best left to a professional. Through the years, I have been called out to assist in numerous situations where people have been hospitalised due to bee stings.”

He described bees as winged insects closely related to wasps and ants. They are known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the western honey bee, for producing honey.

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Pillay had been admitted to King Dinuzulu Hospital, where he died on Thursday.

Pillay will be cremated at the Clare Estate Crematorium on Tuesday. His funeral will take place at a church in Oakdale Road, Newlands West.

IPSS Medical Rescue’s Paul Herbst said six people were stung by bees in Ballito on Thursday. Two were in critical condition. Workers mowing the lawn had disrupted a beehive.

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