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Bee attack: How to bee-have when stung

Published on Apr 29, 2014 2:33 PM
 
A Carpenter Bee, the Xylocopa Latipes, feeding from a morning glory flower in the Punggol HDB estate on Sept 14, 2011. This is one of the largest bees in the world, and is very common in Singapore, and is almost completely harmless to humans, although it will sting if threatened. -- FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

A pest controller died last year after a swarm of giant honey bees stung him more than 100 times.

Back in 2007, bees at Labrador Park stung a teacher and a group of students on their necks, arms and legs. All 51 individuals were sent to hospital. In another incident around the same period, an elderly woman was attacked in Zion Road.

In the rare event that these winged ones come at you, here's what to do and not do:

Do:

  • cover your face and run as quickly and far away as possible. Bees don't fly very fast, and it is easy to outrun a bee. 
  • run against the wind, as the resistance makes it harder for the bees to keep pace with you. 
  • run in a straight line to prevent other people from getting stung if you zig-zag around other people. 
  • run until you get to shelter, as most bees will not follow you indoors. Those who do will be disoriented by the room's lights and temperature and will instinctively fly towards the windows. 
  • make use of any kind of coverage if you can't get to proper shelter, such as a blanket, tent or car.


Do not:

  • swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement. Besides, crushed bees give - off a smell of bananas that will draw even more bees to you. 
  • jump into water as the bees will only wait for you to surface.


What happens when you get stung?

  • Remove the stinger immediately - do not use your fingers or tweezers as they may push more venom into the wound. Use your finger nail, the edge of a credit card or any other object with a straight edge. Remember, speed is of the essence. 
  • Apply ice or a cold compress to bring down the swelling
  • Seek medical attention promptly, as those who are allergic to bee stings can die within 30 minutes of the attack. 
  • Refrain from squeezing the affected area as the barbed stinger may release more venom into the body.


Bees in Singapore

  • There are about 20,000 bee species in the world, with five main types found in Singapore: 
  • Asian Honey Bee – up to 10mm in size, yellow/dark brown to black stripes
  • Dwarf Honey Bee – the smallest among the four, distinctive thin yellow bands
  • European Honey Bee – up to 15mm in size, yellow/brown to dark brown stripes
  • Giant Honey Bee – the largest, yellow on the thorax and upper abdomen
  • Carpenter Bee – docile giants, black, solitary in nature, commonly mistaken for the bumble bee


Bet you didn't know that...

  • Not all bees sting. 
  • Some types of bees, like the bumblebee and carpenter bee can sting more than once as their stingers are smooth and do not get caught in the skin when they fly off.
  • Bee wings beat 11,4000 times a minute.
  • A honey bee makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
  • Smoke is used to calm bees during honey harvesting or honey comb relocation.
  • Bees are generally not bloodthirsty with a sole mission in life to sting humans: Bees pollinate one in three foods we eat and are a critical part of the eco-system. Some are more defensive and therefore, more aggressive.

Information culled from the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, www.learnaboutnature.com and insects.about.com and sgwildanimals.blogspot.sg

 

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