Thirty-five-year-old Nicholas Shepherd of Marchfield Close, St Philip was stung to death after disturbing a colony of nearly 80,000 bees in a mango tree, beekeeping expert Colin Maynard has confirmed.
Friday morning teams from the Barbados Apiculture Association and R & R Honey Farms visited the scene and after an hour and ten minutes were successful in removing two beehives from the area – one in a box at the foot of the tree and the other, which was hanging 35 feet from the mango tree.
They were also able to recover a blue t–shirt, slippers and black plastic bag with some of the mangoes that the Shepherd, who was a father of three, was picking when he met his untimely death.
Maynard, of the Barbados Apiculture Association, said based on the evidence gathered, Shepherd had unknowingly disturbed the colony of Italian Honey Bees while trying to pick the fruit.
In defence of their hive, the bees viciously stung the Marchfield, St Philip resident to death.
“A swarm is not dangerous but a hive like what was established is very dangerous,” Maynard explained, adding “usually a colony of bees have guard bees and if they are disturbed, they protect their hive and in doing that whatever threat they see would have been attacked, but bees generally if they are not disturbed would not gone out and attacked anyone,” Maynard explained.
The beekeeper of nearly 30 years also revealed that during Friday’s evacuation process, the bees were apparently still quite agitated following Thursday’s incident and were aggressive attacking members of the teams.
He also disclosed that more than of half of the population of bees had died after stinging Shepherd to death.
However, Maynard Friday sought to reassure members of the community that there was no need for further alarm.
“The area is safe now but there are still going to be a couple bees lingering in the area . . . . There wouldn’t be a cause for alarm because as they come in they would realize the hive is gone and they would drift away in a matter of days,” he added.
In the meantime, the bee expert is also assuring Barbadians that there is no need to panic in light of Thursday’s unfortunate death.
While stressing that the way Shepherd met his death was an unusual occurrence, Maynard urged citizens to be vigilant when picking fruit and to call experts in the event they do find a hive on their premises.
“Bearing in mind that bees from time could reside in trees . . . when you are approaching a tree it would be good to circle the tree [and] look right around it.
“If there are bees in there, you would see a flight path because bees are always going to and fro to the field for flowers . . . if you see a flight path you know that bees are somewhere in the tree but generally you should always, especially in unfamiliar surrounding, be alert and look out,” he said.