Chaos broke out at Eccles, East Bank Demerara on Monday, as a swarm of bees stung a mechanic and his relatives, killing him in the process.
Dead is Sheik Imran Hassan, 49, of Lot 238 Anaida Avenue, Eccles, EBD. According to the man’s son Sheik Arshaad Hassan, he was at work at Beharry when he received a call from his aunt, who was screaming and crying. Arshaad said all he could have deducted from the confusing phone was that he should go home urgently. On leaving work, he said, he was met by his aunt and another relative, who relayed to him that his father had been [and was still being] stung by a swarm of bees from the house next door – Lot 239 Anaida Avenue, Eccles. As such, Arshaad related that before going home he and his two relatives stopped at the “front road fire station” soliciting assistance for his father, “but they told us there is nothing they can do. We waited for about fifteen minutes and they told us the same thing” so they left. Upon their arrival home, Imran’s eldest son said he was met with the sight of his father lying in the street covered with bees. He also related that his father ran “up and down the street, he got a bucket with water and doused himself from head to toes…he even put the bucket over his head”, but all his efforts were unsuccessful. “The bees were on my father for 45 minutes.”
Several other relatives were also attacked by the vicious insects, Hassan’s sister-in-law Joan Hassan [who herself had been stung] told Stabroek News. According to her, her brother-in-law was on the parapet in front of their home fixing a car with an assistant, when the attack commenced. The attendant, who was stung in several parts of his body, hurriedly jumped into a barrel of water nearby and escaped with minor injuries, but Hassan wasn’t so fortunate. “He called for help… for me to help and I run downstairs to help but they sting me too so I had to run back upstairs,” she said.
Joan as well as Arshaad also said that neighbours who heard Hassan’s pitiful cries for help, attempted to render assistance; some by calling the fire service and others by lighting smoke and even starting vehicles to get the exhaust smoke in the air, while others doused themselves in diesel and attempted ro approach the man. However, none of these efforts worked. Hassan was eventually taken to the Woodlands Hospital, where he succumbed.
A grieving and angry Arshaad related to Stabroek News that contact was also made with the Eccles Neighbourhood Democratic Council, “and the first question they asked was ‘who paying we?’’’. Efforts were also made to contact the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Agriculture, but the man’s relatives were given the royal runaround that led to nowhere. Also, some persons visited the Providence Police Station, but they too gave the same response as the fire station. “They are useless, worthless… they [the NDC and the Fire Service] offered absolutely no help at all. No amount of words can express how annoyed I am, and how the neighbours are feeling also,” Arshaad said. He also added that it was very disturbing how the “country has nothing in place to help someone who is being attacked by bees. I just hope that something is put in place for if in future something of a similar nature occurs”.
Two beekeepers were also summoned to the area to get rid of the insects; one named Carl Persaud and another called Mr Young. The former, one relative of the deceased related, arrived on the scene, made no efforts to eradicate the bees, and demanded taxi fare of Joan Hassan, while the latter was paid $18,000 to get rid of them, which he successfully did. “Only a few flying around now but they will go away soon,” an optimistic Arshaad said.
This newspaper was made to understand that along with the bees’ nest that was extracted from the house a generous amount of honey was also brought out and taken away by the beekeeper.
The house in which the bees dwelled belonged to the head of GEB security firm Tony Amres. This newspaper was told that he passed away earlier this year, and his wife, called “Vannie” now resides there with four other persons and the couple’s 3-year-old child. Stabroek News was unable to make contact with the woman, to find out why she was dwelling in a bee-infested house with a toddler, but understands that since the incident she and the other occupants had vacated the place. They returned last night and were seen cleaning up the premises.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) received a report from a resident in the area at around 2 pm on Monday stating that a resident of Eccles was being attacked by a swarm of bees. The release said the GLDA immediately contacted Mr Carl Persaud, a private bee keeper/exterminator, who responded to the scene at 2.30 to investigate and take necessary action. “….Singh found that the bees were in a building unoccupied and proceeded to exterminate the bee colony. In the process two dogs were rescued,” the release continued.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday issued a press release in which it advised homeowners and members of the general public on precautions necessary to avoid or deal with bee invasions. The release stated that “Africanized bees have been present in Guyana for several decades. While they are high producers of honey, they are also known for many attacks which can kill human and animals.” As such, it said, there is a strong tendency for the insects to invade homes and abandoned buildings. The ministry is asking persons to: examine enclosed spaces such as ceilings, panelled walls and eaves between 1.30 pm and 3 pm for the presence of bees. If any are found, persons are advised to avoid the use of aerosol insecticides against the insects, and to notify the GLDA on telephone # 220-6557 or, contact a private bee exterminator. The release further advised that if bees are present in the home, “avoid playing loud music”, and in case of bee attack, walk away briskly without fanning away the bees.
Victims of bee sting are further advised by the ministry to apply vinegar or an antihistamine cream on areas of the body stung by bee, or to consult a physician immediately.
Hassan was enterred yesterday.