A swarm of bees killed two dogs tied up in a yard on
Shetland Lane in West Bay on Sunday afternoon.
A neighbour, who had been keeping the bees, destroyed the
colony after the attack. A police spokesperson confirmed the incident and said
inquiries are ongoing.
“My dogs were tied up and helpless,” Letitia Paddyfoote
said. “If I was there, I would have died as well.”
Ms Paddyfoote left her home around 1pm to go to work as
property manager at a nearby resort. At about 2pm, her landlord, Vivine Rivers,
called her saying that bees were attacking her dogs – Castro, a 4-year-old
pitbull, and Oz, a 2-year-old pitbull mix and the son of Castro.
Ms Rivers said she and her son, Rolin, were inside the house
at the time of the attack. They looked outside after hearing Castro struggling
with the bees.
“He had millions of bees on him. You couldn’t hardly see the
dogs for the bees,” Ms Rivers said.
Mr Rivers’ attempt to drive the bees away with a can of bug
spray was ineffective. Ms Paddyfoote drove home immediately after receiving Ms
Rivers’ call, but the swarming bees would not allow her to get close enough to
help her pets, who weighed about 80 pounds apiece.
“If I had been out to feed my chickens, the bees would have
conquered me,” Ms Rivers said, adding that at age 77 she would not have been
able to run away.
Ms Paddyfoote called firefighters and police, who responded
to try to assist, as did the owner of the bees, Geovanni Garro. Ms Paddyfoote
said it took about three hours to clear the bees away from the dogs.
“I am sorry for the dogs. I am sorry for the lady. But sorry
may not be a good help. I take full responsibility. I take the blame. It was my
bees,” Mr. Garro said.
Mr. Garro is a crane operator at the port and also has a
landscaping business. He has lived in Cayman for 23 years. He said he kept bees
in his home country of Costa Rica, where the practice is more common. He had
been raising the bees in his yard in West Bay for about two years without
incident before Sunday.
He said dogs were running up and down through his yard, when
one bumped into the box of bees, riling the colony. That dog was able to flee,
but Ms Paddyfoote’s dogs in the next yard could not. Mr. Garro has offered to
attempt to recompense Ms Paddyfoote for the loss of her pets.
“Those dogs were so nice. I loved them dogs myself. They
were almost like children to me. They were the best dogs that I know of,” Ms
Ms Paddyfoote said she collected some of the dead bees and
submitted them to a Department of Agriculture official, who told her the bees
were not Africanised bees. She said she is disappointed that officials do not
provide information on what to do in case of a bee swarm.
Speculation about Africanised bees runs rampant after bee
attacks, local bee expert Otto Watler said, stressing that he has never seen or
heard of Africanised bees in Cayman.
Unlike the hyper-aggressive Africanised bees, Cayman’s local
banded Italian bees are known for being docile and not attacking unless
provoked, Mr. Watler said. However, as in the case with Ms Paddyfoote’s dogs,
when bees sting they release a serum that signals other bees to attack.
“When that scent gets in the air and rest of the bees smell
it, that’s when it all gets in a frenzy. They will attack anything then, child,
man, horse, dog, whatever. That’s what happened,” he said.
“When a dog is tied, and when bees attack and you don’t get
it released, it is a matter of death – no question about that,” Mr. Watler
Mr. Watler likened bees to fire, saying they are both
beneficial to humans, but also potentially dangerous. If people see a swarm of
bees, they should use caution and common sense, and keep children and animals
away from the bees, and not throw rocks or other objects at the swarm, he said.
People who see a swarm should call the Department of
Agriculture or Environment, who will then contact Mr. Watler to remove the
bees. He charges a fee to cover his expenses for removing the bees, which will
vary according to the time needed for the job. Mr. Watler said the most he has
ever charged to remove bees was $300.
A resident of West Bay for about 56 years, Ms Rivers said
she had never been bothered by bees before. However, Cayman does have a history
of occasional but serious bee attacks.
In April 2010, bees killed a 4-year-old pitbull as her owner
gave her a bath outside her home in Bonsal Crescent in West Bay. In September
2008, 74-year-old George Sherryl Whittaker was stung to death near his home on
Fairbanks Road. In May 2004, an 86-year-old man died after a bee attack near
North West Point Road. Less than two weeks later, a 70-year-old man survived
being stung by bees on North West Point Road, although his pet dog died from
Mr. Garro said he will not raise any more bees outside his
West Bay home, though he said he would like to keep bees again in the future if
he is able to find a more secluded area. A Department of Agriculture official
said no permits are necessary to keep bees.
Ms Paddyfoote and Ms Rivers said Mr. Garro had three boxes
of bees, which Mr. Watler estimated could contain “in the vicinity of hundreds
of thousands, close to millions of bees.” However, Mr. Garro said he had only
one bee box, containing only about 2,000 bees.