By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE hive of the bees that attacked and killed an elderly man and two dogs in the Caravel Beach area was located and removed from the area by a local pest control company, The Tribune understands.
Pest control technicians at Budget Pest Control responded to an emergency call last Wednesday at Dolphin and Drumfish Street, where 82-year-old Keith Finley was attacked after throwing yard debris into bushes across the street from his home. He was taken to hospital, but died two days later.
Prior to his death, neighbours in the area had also lost their dogs after unreported bee attacks.
This is the first fatal attack of a human in Grand Bahama. The incident has been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, which is expected to receive samples of the bees from local exterminators to determine if they were Africanised honey bees, also known as “killer bees”.
Gregory Rahming, director at the Department of Agriculture, told The Tribune his officers in Freeport are trying to obtain some of the bee samples.
“The officers at the department in Freeport are speaking to the exterminator to see if he had taken samples to see if we can get a hold of the samples.
“Once we get the sample we will forward it to a lab abroad that can do testing,” he said.
Mr Rahming explained there are no-one or any facility in the country that can conduct testing to determine if the insects are, in fact, Africanised bees.
When asked whether the situation of bee attacks on Grand Bahama is a serious issue, the director said: “Well, based on information I received, if you disturb a bee hive, the bees will attack you - any bee; any bee hive will attack you.”
When asked if agricultural officers in Grand Bahama have visited the site of the attack, he stated: “We intend to inspect the area; we have staff in GB who are investigating the matter, and we will advise the public in due course once our investigations are finished.”
Bahamas National Trust officials in Grand Bahama have issued warnings to the public since June, when the first aggressive bee attack was recorded in East Grand Bahama.
A team from BNT was conducting a bird survey in bushes in East Grand Bahama when members were attacked. Team members were stung numerous times, with one person being stung up to 16 times.
Ellsworth Weir, park manager of BNT in Grand Bahama, said they are very concerned about the situation regarding the aggression of the bees. “In terms of the way the attack happened and the aggression shown by the bees we are concerned,” he said.
Mr Weir said that they have been in communication with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Mr Weir said he has visited the Caravel Beach area where latest attack occurred at Drumfish Street. He said that he is also aware that dogs in the area had been attacked and died.
“An alarm probably should have been raised at that point when that had happened. But that did not come to our attention or the Beekeepers Association,” he said.
Mr Weir has spoken with Nakira Wilchcombe, environmental and safety director at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, regarding an abandoned building behind the bush where a beehive had been previously removed.
He said that they were also going to check the building to make sure that there are no bees there.
“That building previously had some bees that had to be removed. But based on how Mr Finley was attacked it does not seem the bees would be in that house because that is behind the property where the bush is. He got attacked on the other side,” he said.
Anyone who encounters or sees a hive can contact the Grand Bahama Beekeepers Cooperative at 242-814-7922; the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Control Unit; Mr Weir at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-5438, or science officer Scott Johnson at email@example.com or 393-1371.