An innocuous gardening decision to cut down alien gum trees has unleashed a swarm of killer bees in East London.
Drought may also be bringing more bees into the urban areas in search of well-watered flowering Spring gardens, bee farmer Kola le Roux said.
The SA Weather Office’s Garth Sampson this week linked the drought to climate shift.
Morningside homeowner Brent Venish said he has removed the bees a number of times, but they kept coming back. The bees have stung four dogs to death and attacked two people in the neighbourhood, one of them disabled.
Venish said his big mistake was to destroy the bees’ habitat. “I didn’t know it at the time but those bees were here before I even moved in about eight years ago.
“There used to be gum trees in the yard. I was frustrated with the mess that those trees were making so I had them cut down. They knocked a branch which had a hive in it. The bees went wild and swarmed,” Venish said. “I’ve been trying to get rid of them ever since. I’ve had professionals come to remove them (from under the roof) about three times.
“But they keep coming back even when they say they’ve removed the queen bee. It costs me a lot of money to remove them,” he said.
“I told the people who come to remove the bees that they must do whatever it takes to stop them coming back.
“A man has come to my gate shouting that I must get rid of the bees. He said he would do it but then refused to work at the height the bees are at.”
Venish said the bees were a nightmare for his family too.
“They [the bees] have also killed my dogs. I have two young children and when the bees are acting up I have to stop them from playing in that part of the yard.
“There have been times when men will come to the gate and shout at my wife when I’m not home,” he said.
“I am doing everything I can to get rid of them [the bees], they’re not mine, and I don’t keep them.
“I am sorry about the harm the bees cause but I can’t go apologise every time someone gets stung. I’ve been told that there are a lot of bees in the area, I’ve even seen bee boxes near Garcia flats. So who is to say that it is the bees from my house doing all of this!” Venish said.
Le Roux, said: “It sounds like he [Venish] has a very bad tempered, aggressive strain. About one in 50 swarms will be like that.
“It is very common for bees to continue to return to the same spot. The past hives leave a smell which attracts the bees back there, even other swarms. To get rid of that smell you would have to paint over the spot with diesel.
“At this time of the year it’s very common for bees to start moving into urban areas and suburbs.
“This causes the bees to go into the residential areas where people have gardens, flowers and plentiful food for the bees.
“If your dog is being stung, first cover yourself with a towel and then go and spray the bees with a hosepipe. Get yourself and the dog inside.”
Bee attack mode was triggered by lawnmowers, the smell of cut grass and melting beeswax in the hive on a hot day.
Venish said he was having the bees removed today.