THATTA, April 15: An extraordinary large and aggressive species of bee has created terror in many parts of Sindh keeping people on guard round the clock.
There are instances wherein people either are reluctant to visit where its hives are located or have forced some to relocate their offices. Some bee-struck residents, particularly in Thatta, Makli, Gujjo and Gharo were apprehensive of its sting which not only inflicted injuries but was also capable of taking one's life.An inch long faded-black creature with a yellow tinge on the side of its abdomen had built colonies in homes, on tree trunks, in office yards, parks, schools and at public places. It has a strong defensive response.
People have different views about its origin some say it arrived from Gujrat (India) after the earthquake while others believe it belonged to southern Punjab. Whatever its origin maybe but a person stung by it is sure to run high-grade fever. A proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment is needed for bee-stung victim along with vaccination, say observers.
Honey produced by this bee is different from common one say Dr Abdul Hussain Shah Shukur Illahi while botanist Syed Imran Shah believes it has least medicinal value.
Alien bee compelled the Nadra administration in Makli to shift their offices because of its attack on visitors coming there. An officer Syed Shahfqat Shah say the bee has made its hive in authority's new office also thus creating problem for visitors again. Around four to five feet long bee-hive on a tree in the yard of Forest Office has created a nightmare among visitors and employees, both.
A swarm of bee attacked three men, Asghar Ali, Ashfaq Shah and Sattar Behrani in the courtyard of an NGO's office in Makli on Wednesday, besides attacking around half-a-dozen wedding guests in a village in Gujjo.
People have named it a killer bee, says Iqbal Mamon adding it has made its nests in many farms, fields and parks in and around Gujjo and Gharo towns.
A farm owner and former taluka naib nazim of Thatta, Khair Mohammad Brohi is in a fix as how to secure his date orchard, infested with about two dozen hives and these creatures have attacked many peasants who are now reluctant to till and plough the land falling under these trees.
An octogenarian shepherd Sain Dino Jokhi who is also experienced in extracting honey from hives is amazed at the size of this specie. “I've come across many species but not of this size.”
The aggressive and offensive nature of this bee is sure to exterminate the local specie, he said or these may be eaten by the alien bee or would migrate to safer places.
Principal, Mohammad Khan Junejo Institute of Science and Technology, and a parasytologist with command over entomology, Prof Murtaza Dharejo could not say with surety as to whether it was an indigenous because of uncertainty of its natural habitation.
A forest conservator, Riaz Ahmed Waggan says he had never seen or heard about this specie either in Thatta forst or in Kirthar mountain region.
Its appearance has also been reported in Khairpur, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Dadu, Sanghar, Matiari and Thatta districts during the last two years, he adds.
A young cotton picker was reportedly stung to death in Sanghar some seven months ago while passing under a nest hanging on a tree. A pail of cloud kept floating over boy's head till the time he lost his breath.
In several district farmers, young shepherds and common people are equally stung by the big bee.
The bee belongs to genus bombus of the apidae family and hymenoptera order, say Mr Waggan. It is highly defensive and attacks intruders more readily than the common bee adding around 15 species of bumble bees are known in North America. It develops a hive on a large piece of tree and weight of honey is anywhere between 2.5kg to 5kg in each nest.
Local agronomist Sami Qureshi believes the ecological changes may be the cause of migration of bee from other areas including southern Punjab.