Chiangrai Times – Swarms of Honey bees attacked a group of novice monks at a Buddhist temple of Chedi Luang Worawiharn in northern Thailand, causing 76 of them to be hospitalized.
Naren Chotirosnimitr, director of Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying 19 of the 53 monks admitted to hospital were in serious condition.
He said six of the monks arrived at the hospital in a coma, with their blood pressure at a dangerously low level.
Naren said bee attacks can be fatal if patients sustain multiple stings and are allergic.
Sting victims typically experience nausea, difficulty in breathing and skin rash. In serious cases blood pressure drops sharply.
The monks were sweeping the grounds of the Chedi Luang Worwiharn Temple in Chiang Mai province, 600km north of Bangkok, when the bees attacked.
Abbot Phra Ratcha Jetyajarn said he had no idea why the bees attacked.
He said the temple would continue to keep bee hives on the grounds but will warn visitors to keep their distance.
Honey bees are an Old-World species, thought to have originated in Asia. They are in the genus Apis, which is thought to be based on the Egyptian word for “sacred bull.” There are seven or so species of Apis bees identified worldwide, and, with new taxonomic tools (DNA analysis) available today, more species no doubt can be expected in the future.
Stinging behaviour by honey bees has evolved as a strictly defensive measure and is usually confined to protecting the nest or colony. Honey bees in the field seldom sting and are never “aggressive,” that is, seek out hosts to sting. However, most writings in the lay press and reports on television about honey bees emphasize the latter term, not the former.
This habit unfortunately has also crept into the scientific and even beekeeping communities. Thus, honey bees often appear to the sensitized general public as simply “aggressive.” And because people and animals have been killed by these insects, it probably is inevitable that the term “killer bee” would be coined and continues to be used with reference to honey bees, particularly those found in the tropics usually referred to as “Africanized.”