Africanised bees have struck again and they have claimed yet another human life. These were bees that came into this country from neighbouring Brazil and have corrupted the hives of the ordinary honey bees we once had.
As their name suggests, they came from Africa either by human hand or by way of experimentation. Some Brazilian beekeeper allowed one hive to escape and Guyana is now their home. These bees have spread all over the country contaminating hives and making their own hives.
The movement of animals and insects is nothing unusual. What is unusual is that people through their uncaring ways have allowed these insects to prosper. People must have seen them trying to invade some lodging or some clump of bush or even some old discarded vehicle, and did nothing.
In the case of the recent Eccles incident in which a man died, people saw the bees setting up residence in four different locations and did nothing. In the end the bees set themselves up in a fashionable house in the neighbourhood, expanding their hive and when things got out of hand, moving to other locations nearby.
This speaks a lot for people in a community. There have been warnings from the outset that should people see bees swarming in a community they should call the Ministry of Agriculture. However, the attitude that if something is in no way affecting us at this time then we do nothing.
This was the case on the Essequibo Coast in some villages where the bees eventually struck with deadly effect. The same thing happened in the residential community of Queenstown, Georgetown. The bees were seen entering the community and installing themselves in an old car. When a man, after some time, decided to week the area he angered them with fatal consequences for some dogs. Human beings were also attacked but they managed to survive.
We have reported on numerous incidents of these bee attacks. In another East Bank Demerara community a man and a horse died.
The cold hard fact is that we contribute to the disaster because through our selfish actions we condemn a community to disaster, in this case, attacks from the bees. Similar selfish actions actually saw armed gangs attacking homes, safe in the knowledge that people would remain ensconced in their homes while their neighbours are being terrorized.
In those communities where people respond en masse criminals tend to stay away. People do what was always the case, “Look out for each other.”
Sparking electric wires trigger some response because a fire may not be confined to a single home in the area but this community-minded action is not often transferred to other cases.
But there is more to this. The Ministry of Agriculture has no one who can respond and deal with cases of bee invasion. People needing help must call private individuals. True, the Agriculture Ministry would provide the numbers but since these are private individuals there is no guarantee that a bee control worker would respond in a timely manner.
Within the past few years, six of these people have been killed. There was no compensation from the government because the conclusion was that the operator went there in his private capacity.
Given that bees have been no stranger to Guyana for decades one would have expected that the Ministry of Agriculture would have had a section that could have been dealing with bees. And the people of Guyana, cognizant that the government offers assistance to the public at no cost, expect the same when it comes to protection from insects such as the Africanised bees.
In this case the private operator who arrived there was accosted, threatened and even chased with an implement for taking too long to arrive. No one paid him and the expectation is that he would always be there to respond to a bee crisis. This may not be the case.
The onus is therefore for the people to be vigilant for their own survival. There will be other instances of the Africanised bees entering other communities and there are those communities in which they have already set up hives. People need to take action, even if for their own safety.
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