Honey, I shrunk the neighbourhood



BADIN: It has been three days since Atta Muhammad moved out of his house because a giant beehive has taken up his neighbourhood.

He has not gone to work in the fields and his children have missed school as there is a five-feet-tall and almost three-feet-wide beehive in his village Haji Matho Thebo, near Badin. Dozens of residents living near the beehive moved to a nearby neighbourhood this week as they live in constant fear that the bees, rumoured to be poisonous, will sting them and they will die.

This beehive attracts more bees than an average-sized hive and residents said that they have never seen bees as big as the ones on this hive. “We were so afraid of the unusual size of the bees that we have not even tried to set fire to it,” said Atta Muhammad. Residents use this technique in villages across Sindh and the event is taken as a happy occasion as they then manage to extract large amounts of honey. This time though, the beehive has forced them to stay indoors.

When the bees come out on their routine tour every day, we stay indoors with our windows shut, claimed one resident. Several residents opted to alert the media before they contacted government officials as they believed that officers would only take action once the media showed the hive to the entire country. So far, however, the administration of district Badin has been unaware of this unusual bee development in the village. Nevertheless, the residents demanded the district government do something to help so that they could return home.

Bee background

Usman Shar, an entomologist at the Institute of Agriculture Research, Tando Jam University, told The Express Tribune that originally the giant bee belonged to Balochistan. It has been migrating to Sindh for the last one decade due to a lack of rain and water over there. “The size of the beehive ranges from one to three meters and it grows rapidly,” he said. Bees will not sting anyone until or unless their hive is disturbed. Recently, a few cases were reported from Hyderabad, Badin, Larkana and Jacobabad where people lost their lives.

The best way to get rid of such hives is to use the ‘Laser’ pesticide spray, he recommended. One way to tell if a bee is a giant bee is to see if it sits on garbage or not. “Also its honey does not taste as good as that of regular bees,” he said. Eagles generally attack beehives when they are hungry, he said. And women tend to be attacked more by irritated bees because they wear colourful clothing, especially in these parts of Sindh.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 16th, 2010.

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