Two beehives removed from Palmiste Park

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A swarm of bees – File photo

The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) has removed two of seven beehives identified after a bee attack on Easter Monday.

At least seven people had to be taken to hospital after being stung during the attack at Palmiste Park, San Fernando.

A ministry statement on Thursday said an evaluation identified three of the hives as a safety risk to users of the park that required immediate removal. It said two had been removed so far, with the third earmarked for relocation to a private apiary under the care of a beekeeper.

It advised people enjoying any public space to exercise caution. It also encouraged people to consult the MALF website for information and tips on how to handle bee encounters.

This group of people scampered to safety after four people were attacked by a swarm of bees at Palmiste Park, San Fernando on April 1. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Responding to public concern over the safety of the bees, as certain populations are in decline globally, the ministry said killing them was a last resort.

“The Ministry of Agriculture deeply values the crucial role bees play in our ecosystem and is dedicated to their preservation whenever possible. Our approach to bee management prioritises collaboration with beekeepers and the safe relocation of hives. Killing bees is always considered a last resort, and our specially trained crews respond to complaints from individuals impacted by bees, assessing the risk posed and evaluating accessibility to the hives before determining the appropriate action.”

The statement said the ministry was committed to fostering partnerships with beekeepers and communities to safeguard bees.

The minister, Kazim Hosein, said the ministry would allocate all necessary resources to address the issue.

“Ensuring the safety of our citizens is paramount, and our ministry will continue to monitor the situation at Palmiste Park. Recent events highlight the importance of proactive measures. Bee stings can have serious consequences, particularly for those who are allergic. We are committed to working diligently to ensure the safety of park users. Let us all exercise caution and prioritise safety in our recreational activities.”

In the wake of the incident, the Bee Abatement Unit of County Victoria (Regional Administration South Division) found the seven hives in trees, tenmetres (30 feet) off the ground. It urged people to stay away from the park until the danger had been dealt with.

“Citizens are advised to heed the authorities’ warning and refrain from entering the park until further notice. Furthermore, it is essential to exercise due vigilance and refrain from disturbing the bees if using the park. The safety of our citizens remains our top priority, and we appreciate the co-operation and understanding of the public during this time,” the ministry said then.