Bees attack in West Bay

Residents in West Bay are on alert
after a pitbull was stung to death by hundreds of bees.

Karina Leveque’s dog Epiphany,
known as Piffy, was killed by bees last Thursday. The four-year-old pitbull was
swarmed by bees as her owner gave her a bath outside her home in Bonsal
Crescent in West Bay.

Ms Leveque was stung about 10 times
and her boyfriend was stung more than 50 times as they tried to rescue their
dog.

“It was the worst day of my life.
It was like the movie ‘The Birds’, only with bees,” said Ms Leveque whose nose
was broken when a neighbour accidentally swung his fist into her face as he tried
to hose the bees off the dog with water.

“Apparently, when bees sting, they
send out a signal to other bees to also attack,” said Ms Leveque who said bees
had a hive in her shed for some time, but other smaller bees had appeared in
the bushes near her home recently.

“I never take Piffy outside, only
for walks and to go to the bathroom. But on that day, it was hot and sunny,
we’d just come back from the beach and she was sandy and I decided to wash her
outside,” she said.

“When the bees attacked, they were
in my hair and stinging my neck and my boyfriend yelled “Run”, so we ran into
the house,” she said.

Her boyfriend returned to the
garden to get Piffy inside, but then the house was filled with bees, she said.

“The dog was totally covered in
bees. I don’t think there was one inch of her that wasn’t covered,” her stunned
owner said.

She ran out of the house with the
dog to beg help from neighbours. “I made it down the block and the dog
collapsed,” she said.

A neighbour tried to help by hosing
the dog down with water, but in his efforts to wield the water hose, he
accidently swung his arm around and broke Ms Leveque’s nose, she said.

“It was crazy. My neighbour’s
trying to give me first aid, I’m telling him to save the dog. He went to pick
her up and then said she was dead,” she said.

She called the Island’s only
beekeeper Otto Watler, who said it would cost $300 to get rid of the bees.
While she said she was willing to pay to have the bees removed from the shed on
her property, she wants to know who will pay for the bees swarming in the
bushes near her home.

“They went away for a while, but
started coming back yesterday [Monday],” she said.

“Piffy was part of our family,”
said Ms Leveque, who questioned whose responsibility it was to deal with bees
that are stinging members of the public and killing dogs.

This is reportedly the second dog
to be killed by bees in West Bay recently.

Bees have also caused the death of
a person in Cayman. In November 2008, 74-year-old George Sherryl Whittaker,
father of local boxer Charles Whittaker, was stung to death near his home in
Fairbanks Road.

The bees in West Bay are not
Africanised or so called Killer Bees, but common honey bees. However, if they
swarm and sting hundreds of times, these bees can kill.

Harold Wright, owner of Bee Safe, a
bee removal company in the United States, warned people not to stay outdoors
once they have been attacked by bees.

“If you’re being stung, run inside,
go into your house or into your car. Honey bees can only sting you once, so if
you’ve covered in bees, chances are you’ve already been stung by them and those
bees will not sting you again.

“Get indoors, strip down and pull
the stingers out of your body,” he said.

He warned that staying outdoors
meant you remained a target for the bees.

“People get killed because they
don’t know what to do,” he said, adding “Don’t roll around on the ground, don’t
jump in a pool, don’t hose yourself down with water outdoors.”

Director of Agriculture Adrian
Estwick said he would send the department’s animal welfare officer to the
scene, but said it may not necessarily be the remit of his office to deal with
the bees.

“I don’t have any mandate or any
budget that would address this issue [of removing bees],” Mr. Estwick said.

He added that his department had not
received a complaint from Ms Leveque or neighbours in the area, but that normal
practice when a complaint is received is to refer the complainant to beekeeper
Mr. Watler.

Mr. Estwick said his department
would work with other relevant agencies to try to get rid of the bees. “We will
call the other agencies to see how this can be dealt with for the benefit of
all concerned,” he said.

Top Bees

Karina Leveque shows a picture of her pitbull Piffy who was stung to death by bees in West Bay last week.
Photo: Norma Connolly
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