Family disputes create rebel bees
BBC Nature News 1 May 2012
Workers can rebel against their queen
Continue reading the main story
Worker bees rebel when faced with the prospect of raising their nephews and nieces, research has found.
Scientists in Poland have studied post-swarm bee colonies to understand how workers react to a change in queen.
They discovered that when a daughter replaces her mother as head of the colony, some worker bees reproduce instead of caring for their monarch’s offspring.
The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.
Honey bee facts
- A queen honey bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day
- Worker bees live an average of 40 days in the summer but queen bees can live for up to 5 years
- Bees do not have knees – although their legs are jointed they do not have recognisable kneecaps
Prof Michal Woyciechowski from the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Jagiellonian University in Poland led the research.
In a honey bee colony there is a single fertile queen and thousands of fertile male drones, all supported by the queen’s sterile daughters, which are known as workers.
Swarming is a natural occurence in which the queen and part of her colony leave en masse to find a new nest site.
Before she leaves, the queen bee lays a number of eggs, one of which will develop into a new fertile queen supported by the remaining workers.
In this case, Prof Woyciechowski explained, rather than rearing their brothers and sisters, “workers are obligated to rear nieces and nephews”.
“This drop in relatedness causes the old queen’s workers to lay their own eggs.”
The scientists say this is not simply a behavioural switch, but a fundamental change in the workers’ biology.
To analyse changes in the bees, the team split a bee colony, casuing the temporary lack of a queen that occurs naturally after a swarm. They also examined a natural swarm.
Rebel strategy probably gives the workers a better chance to multiply their genes”
Professor Michal WoyciechowskiInstitute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Poland
For both experiments the researchers found that, before a new queen developed, the worker larvae actually grew ovaries – forming egg-producing tubes in place of the food-producing glands they use to “nurse” the colonial brood.
“Most investigators of honey bees strongly believe that the number of [egg-producing tubes] in workers’ ovaries is determined genetically,” said Prof Woyciechowski.
“This is of course true, however, none of them expected that, during workers’ development, larvae have a possibility to switch from nursing to rebel strategy.”
But the observed rebellion was brief: once the new queen’s own workers hatched they were able to suppress the reproducing rebels.
Prof Woyciechowski suggested that, among animals well-known for their altruism, the motivation for the workers development is surprisingly “selfish”.
“Rebel strategy – direct reproduction and an increase in personal fitness – probably gives the workers a better chance to multiply their genes than indirect reproduction via [the] sister-queen,” he said.
The Telegraph – Thursday 22 March 2012
Honeybees face a double whammy from insecticides and disease, according to a new study that could explain the global decline in the insects.
Honeybees are declining because of insecticides and disease, suggests a new study. Photo: GETTY
The sudden drop in honeybees in recent years has led to widespread debate over the cause, with many blaming intensive farming methods that use more pesticides.
However this was dismissed by other studies that found disease is just as damaging.
Now a French study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that it could be a combination of both, as pesticides weaken honeybees and they then die of disease.
The decline in honeybees first hit the headlines around 10 years ago with the mysterious death of whole hives in America, known as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. It is now believed that the US has fewer managed pollinators than at any time in the past 50 years. Many countries in Europe have also seen a decline and honeybee numbers in the UK have halved in the past 25 years.
The UK Government and others have invested billions of pounds into solving the problem since bees are crucial to pollinating flowers and therefore to producing food.
In the latest study a laboratory at Université Blaise Pascal in France studied bees infected with a disease known as nosemosis and bees exposed to an insecticide known as fipronil. Neither of the case studies resulted in many deaths.
However when the bees were exposed to both the disease and the insecticide, in any combination, a large number died.
Nicolas Blot, who led the study, said only “multi-factors” could explain the worldwide decline.
He said the world community now has to work on how to minimise the stress on insects.
“Until now nobody could find one single reason why bees were in decline worldwide,” said he said. “Many worked on one kind of stress. What we show here it is not one insecticide or one disease that explains what is happening but a combination of factors in the environment. Bees are not exposed to one stress they are exposed to many.”
Fipronil is banned in many countries and no longer sold in the UK but is a widespread insecticide on crops in America.
Matthew Shardlow, Chief Executive of the insect charity Buglife, agreed it is a combination of factors leading to the decline in honeybees.
But he said the insecticides are the most easily controlled, since they are the result of human activity.
He suggested a host of chemicals used in Britain and around the world are causing the decline in bees and other insects by exacerbating disease and other factors.
“The evidence gets more and more compelling every time that these chemicals are unsafe for the environment and the Government is not doing enough,” he said.
BBC Nature News 16 March 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17381710
Hornet-killing honeybees’ brain activity measured
Bees gather around a hornet inserted into their hive. Footage courtesy of Masato Ono, Tamagawa University.
Japanese honeybees’ response to a hive-invading giant hornet is efficient and dramatic; they form a “bee ball” around it, serving to cook and asphyxiate it.
Now, researchers in Japan have measured the brain activity of honeybees when they form this killer ball.
One highly active area of the bees’ brains, they believe, allows them to generate the constant heat which is deadly for the hornet.
The team published their findings in the open-access journal, PLoS One.
Prof Takeo Kubo from the University of Tokyo explained that “higher centres” of the bee’s brain, known as the mushroom bodies, were more active in the brains of Japanese honeybees when they were a part of the “hot defensive bee ball”.
To find this out, the team lured the bees to form their ball by attaching a hornet to the end of a wire and inserting the predator into the hive.
This simulated invasion caused the bees to swarm around the hornet. The researchers then plucked a few of the bees from the ball and measured, throughout each of their tiny brains, the relative amount of a chemical that is known to be a “marker” of brain activity.
“We found that similar [brain] activity is evoked when the Japanese honeybees are simply exposed to high temperature (46C) in the laboratory,” the researcher told BBC Nature.
Honeybees’ brain activity may help them maintain the 46C temperature on the inside of the ball
This suggests that this area of the brain is important for processing temperature information.
The team thinks that the mushroom bodies allow the bees to precisely control the temperature they generate inside the bee ball. The same researchers previously discovered that this remains at 46C until the hornet is successfully killed.
Prof Kubo said that this brain region might “modulate the vibration of the flight muscle”, which is what generates this heat.
The bees, he explained, must maintain the temperature in the bee ball around 46 degrees “because, if the temperature of the bee ball is below [that], the hornet will not be killed”.
“[And] if the temperature is above 46 degrees, not only the hornet but also the bees will be killed.”
Dr Masato Ono from Tamagawa University, who also took part in the study, added: “The crucial function is to keep temperature inside the bee ball within the range of 46 to 48C, [like] a thermostat.”
The team hope eventually to find out what kind of brain function is unique to the Japanese honeybees compared to that of the European honeybees, which do not form these spherical armies.
BBC News 1 February 2012
Bee hive hums recorded to monitor insects’ health
Honey bees use vibration to communicate while inside the hive
Continue reading the main story
- Beehives stop elephant crop-raids
- Bee decline study looks at diesel
- Honey could help fight infections
Monitoring devices are being put in bee hives across Scotland as part of a project to keep an eye on their health.
The monitors record temperature and use a microphone to record the hum the bees make while working and resting.
Already the project has started to show the many different hums bees use to co-ordinate their work.
The project is also helping to work out which environmental forces and factors are behind the decline in bees and other pollinators.
The monitor is the invention of Huw Evans, who swapped his former trade of electronic engineering for beekeeping.
He said the desire to get a better idea of what was happening inside a colony came to him after a few bad experiences with hives on the verge of swarming.
Mr Evans knew of the work done in the 1950s by BBC sound engineer and beekeeper Eddie Woods, who created a device that analysed the sounds made by bees in a hive.
Mr Woods claimed that more than 90% of the inspections beekeepers made of their hives were unnecessary because, most of the time, the bees were fine.
In those cases, all a beekeeper did when he looked through the combs was upset the bees and stunt honey production.
To fine tune his beekeeping, Mr Woods produced a device called the “apidictor” that helped spot when hives needed help because they were sick, running low on stores or close to swarming.
The downside of using the apidictor was that a beekeeper still had to visit a hive and insert a microphone to listen to the hum within.
The varroa mite is one of many pests that sap the health of a colony of bees
Mr Evans’ monitor updates the apidictor using modern digital signal processors and algorithms designed to recognise different hums. He has set up a company called Arnia to commercialise the device.
“Every job a bee does inside a hive makes a slightly different noise,” he said. “So if we can listen to the mass of sound within the hive and possibly dissect that, we can find out a lot about the inner dynamics within the hive.
“We started off looking for swarm prediction but when we began trawling through the data we noticed some other features. The monitor can give an indication of the strength of the hive, the fitness of the hive, how fast the hive is building, their intent to swarm and other such things.”
The monitor is a flat black box about the size of an iPhone that regularly measures the temperature of the brood inside a hive and the sound of the bees. This data is regularly sent to a separate master unit, which collates responses from several monitors. It also keeps an eye on rainfall and external temperatures.
Every so often the master unit sends the information it has received from all the other monitors, plus weather data, back to a server via the mobile network.
While developing the monitor, Mr Evans has been refining the analytical tools that dissect the different hums in a hive. He hopes these will help the many scientists researching the problems that afflict bees, by giving them hints about what was happening before a colony failed.
Mr Evans is working with the Scottish Beekeepers Association, and the little black boxes are now sitting in about 70 hives across the region.
The data gathered by the monitors is also aiding the research of Chris Connolly from the University of Dundee, who is taking part in the Insect Pollinators Initiative – a five-year, £10m project which aims to understand what is causing populations of these insects to dwindle.
Bees were a good indicator of the health of that larger insect population and were much easier to study as they lived inside a hive, said Mr Connolly.
The monitors are sitting in about 70 hives across Scotland
“We have monitors in hives to record how the colony builds in strength throughout the season,” he said. “Hopefully, we can correlate that to events that occur on each individual hive, whether a particular treatment knocked bees back or not, and whether the weather and other factors also play a part.
“Bees are so important because they and other insect pollinators produce 30% of the food on our plates.”
Mr Evans was also hopeful that regular monitoring of hive hums would pinpoint when bees were sick and what disease had hit them.
“We’ve noticed that ill colonies sound different,” he said. “We haven’t managed to characterise which diseases leads to which sounds but that’s work in progress.”
As well as helping beekeepers, the work of the hive monitor could also give great detail about a largely unexplored facet of the honey bee’s life.
“We know less about acoustic communication than any other type of communication in bees,” said Alexandros Papachristoforou, a biologist at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who studies bees.
“Researchers tend to look at visual communication or chemical communication. They don’t pay much attention to sound.”
The hum in a hive is generated by the bees shivering their wings and abdomen as they go about their work in the colony. Although bees lack ears, the hum is believed to be very important to the co-ordination of hive activity, because bees often modify wax comb to be a better conductor of vibration.
Sound was hugely important inside the hive where vision was useless and chemical signals took time to propagate, said Mr Papachristoforou.
“It’s a huge field we must pay attention to,” he said. “There will be a lot of surprising findings coming out of it.”
BBC News 20 January 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-16645223Continue reading the main story
Bees ‘could deter vandals’ at Greenfield heritage park
Surrounding footpaths have been shut to walkers
- Stranded cat rescued from M4 sign
- Rescuers save owl trapped in wire
- Waterwheel goes back into service
Heritage park bosses could use bees to act as a deterrent to stop vandal attacks on historic buildings.
They are looking for sustainable ways to protect old mill buildings at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park, near Holywell, Flintshire.
One idea already tabled is using bees to deter people from going into the protected buildings.
A planning application is due to be submitted to Flintshire council to erect fencing around some of the sites.
An area around Greenfield Mill had to close last summer due to concerns it was in a dangerous condition, with surrounding footpaths also shut to walkers.
I haven’t heard of them being used as security bees”
Barbara ChickWelsh Beekeepers’ Association
Park manager Chris Wright said the deterioration was partly due to age as well as vandal attacks.
He said it would be difficult to deter people determined to get into buildings on the free access public site, making the idea to use bees “seem sensible”.
He hopes a beekeeping group could use the land to produce honey, with the bees themselves helping to pollinate wildflower meadows which could also be created in the area.
“They could be a deterrent,” said Barbara Chick, publicity officer for the Welsh Beekeepers’ Association.
“I haven’t heard of them being used as security bees.”
However, she pointed out there may be health and safety issues if someone was stung and said she would not agree to their use as a security measure.
The idea is to use the bees as a security deterrent and sell honey in the park’s new cafe
Planning permission to erect fencing around Greenfield Mill is to be sought to allow paths to reopen while discussions continue about how to stop the further decline of buildings, while managing and encouraging wildlife around them.
Mr Wright said the main issue had always been striking a balance between the environment and wildlife on one hand and historical and industrial concerns on the other.
He said aerial photos recently uncovered from the 1930s show little flora and fauna, whereas today the whole site was covered in trees and vegetation.
And there has been proof of otters using the water course and ponds which served the old mills in the valley close to St Winefride’s holy well, as well as sightings of a goshawk and other birds of prey.
The 70-acre (28 hectares) heritage park, which includes a museum and farm, is owned by Flintshire council and managed by trustees from The Greenfield Valley Trust.
Can austerity boost economic growth?
With government spending cuts in Europe threatening to produce a global recession, what can an 18th century philosopher, bees and modern economists tell us?
- Robert Shiller
- guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 January 2012 11.22 GMT
Bernard Mandeville’s 18th century fable imagined how a sudden austerity drive could bring down a colony of bees. Photograph: RESO/Rex Features
In his classic Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Public Benefits (1723), Bernard Mandeville, the Dutch-born British philosopher and satirist, described – in verse – a prosperous society (of bees) that suddenly chose to make a virtue of austerity, dropping all excess expenditure and extravagant consumption. What then happened?
The Price of Land and Houses falls;
Mirac’lous Palaces, whose Walls,
Like those of Thebes, were rais’d by Play
Are to be let; …
The building Trade is quite destroy’d
Artificers are not employ’d; …
Those, that remain’d, grown temp’rate strive
Not how to spend, but how to live …
That sounds a lot like what many advanced countries have been going through, after financial-crisis-induced austerity plans were launched, doesn’t it? Is Mandeville a genuine prophet for our times?
Fable of the Bees developed a wide following, and generated substantial controversy, which continues to this day. The austerity plans being adopted by governments in much of Europe and elsewhere around the world, and the curtailment of consumption expenditure by individuals as well, threaten to produce a global recession.
But how do we know if Mandeville is right about austerity? His research method – a long poem about his theory – is hardly convincing to modern ears.
Harvard economist Alberto Alesina recently summarised evidence concerning whether government deficit reduction – that is, expenditure cuts and/or tax increases – always induces such negative effects: “The answer to this question is a loud no.” Sometimes, even often, economies prosper nicely after the government’s deficit is sharply reduced. Sometimes, just maybe, the austerity programme boosts confidence in such a way as to ignite a recovery.
We have to examine the issue with some care, understanding that the issue that Mandeville raised is really a statistical one: the outcome of government deficit reduction is never entirely predictable, so we can ask only how likely such a plan is to succeed in restoring economic prosperity. And the biggest problem here is accounting for possible reverse causality.
For example, if evidence of future economic strength makes a government worry about economic overheating and inflation, it might try to cool domestic demand by raising taxes and lowering government spending. If the government is only partly successful in preventing economic overheating, it might nonetheless appear to casual observers that austerity actually strengthened the economy.
Likewise, the government’s deficit might fall not because of austerity, but because the stock market’s anticipation of economic growth fuels higher revenues from capital-gains tax. Once again, we would see what might appear, from looking at the government deficit, to be an austerity-to-prosperity scenario.
Jaime Guajardo, Daniel Leigh, and Andrea Pescatori of the International Monetary Fund recently studied austerity plans implemented by governments in 17 countries in the last 30 years. But their approach differed from that of previous researchers. They focused on the government’s intent, and looked at what officials actually said, not just at the pattern of public debt. They read budget speeches, reviewed stability programmes, and even watched news interviews with government figures. They identified as austerity plans only those cases in which governments imposed tax hikes or spending cuts because they viewed it as a prudent policy with potential long-term benefits, not because they were responding to the short-term economic outlook and sought to reduce the risk of overheating.
Their analysis found a clear tendency for austerity programmes to reduce consumption expenditure and weaken the economy. That conclusion, if valid, stands as a stern warning to policymakers today.
But critics, such as Valerie Ramey of the University of California at San Diego, think that Guajardo, Leigh, and Pescatori have not completely proven their case. It is possible, Ramey argues, that their results could reflect a different sort of reverse causality if governments are more likely to respond to high public-debt levels with austerity programmes when they have reason to believe that economic conditions could make the debt burden especially worrisome.
That may seem unlikely – one would think that a bad economic outlook would incline governments to postpone, rather than accelerate, austerity measures. And, in response to her comments, the authors did try to account for the severity of the government’s debt problem as perceived by the markets at the time that the plans were implemented, finding very similar results. But Ramey could be right. One would then find that government spending cuts or tax hikes tend to be followed by bad economic times, even if the causality runs the other way.
Ultimately, the problem of judging austerity programmes is that economists cannot run fully controlled experiments. When researchers tested Prozac on depressed patients, they divided their subjects randomly into control and experimental groups, and conducted many trials. We cannot do that with national debt.
So do we have to conclude that historical analysis teaches us no useful lessons? Do we have to return to the abstract reasoning of Mandeville and some of his successors, including John Maynard Keynes, who thought that there were reasons to expect that austerity would produce depressions?
There is no abstract theory that can predict how people will react to an austerity programme. We have no alternative but to look at the historical evidence. And the evidence of Guajardo and his co-authors does show that deliberate government decisions to adopt austerity programmes have tended to be followed by hard times.
Policymakers cannot afford to wait decades for economists to figure out a definitive answer, which may never be found at all. But, judging by the evidence that we have, austerity programmes in Europe and elsewhere appear likely to yield disappointing results.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2012.
BBC News 25 October 2011
No life threatening injuries were reported after the bees escaped
A highway in the US state of Utah was temporary closed after a lorry carrying at least 20m bees overturned, freeing the insects.
The bees were being transported to California, ready to pollinate an almond crop next spring.
Interstate 15 was closed down for several hours while local beekeepers worked overnight to recapture the bees.
The trip was among the last of 160 truckloads of bees being sent south from Adee Honey Farms in South Dakota.
Authorities closed the southbound lanes of the highway, near the Arizona border, for several hours on Sunday night. The road reopened early on Monday morning, but officials have warned drivers to keep their windows closed.
“The driver lost control, hit the concrete barrier and rolled over,” said Corporal Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol. “Of course, we then had bees everywhere.”
Driver Louis Holst and his wife Tammie were dragged out of the overturned trailer by first responders, but were swarmed by the escape bees on the highway.
“We just started swinging our clothes,” Mr Holst told the Associated Press news agency. “They stung her all up and down her neck.”
Mr Holst said he was stung about a dozen times and suffered a gash on his forehead. His wife also was both stung and bruised.
Two police officers were also stung.
Richard Adee, owner of Adee Honey Farms, said this truckload, worth approximately $116,000 (£72,500) was “pretty much a complete loss”.
Local beekeepers worked overnight to capture the bees, but on Monday most of the inhabitants of the 460 hives were gone or dead.
“We tried to move them [the bees] as far out of the metropolitan area as we could,” beekeeper Melvin Taylor told the Reuters news agency. “Because when those bees come alive today, they are going to be mad that their house is all [broken] apart.”
Earlier this summer, an estimated 14m bees escaped from an overturned truck on a Idaho highway.
Aggressive Asian hornets can wipe out a bee colony in hours
British beekeepers have been placed on red alert by a government warning that the UK is about to be invaded by the Asian hornet – a species whose favourite food is the honey bee. The aggressive hornet – Vespa velutina nigrithorax – hunts bees to deadly effect. Just a handful of the dark-bodied, yellow-legged hornets can destroy a bee colony in two hours.
They have already spread across France and into Spain, and are “highly likely” to reach Britain, according to the Non-Native Species Secretariat.
The Asian hornet, which can grow to 3cm long, was introduced to France in 2004, in a shipment of pots imported from China. It has swiftly adapted to the European climate. A single colony can produce more than 15,000 hornets. Earlier this month there were sightings in Belgium.
While the secretariat does not put a figure on the impact the marauding hornets could have on crops, it states: “If the UK were to suffer a total loss of pollinators (not just honey bees) the cost is estimated to be £440m per year.”
The invading hornets are “very likely to survive eradication attempts” and will be a serious problem for beekeepers. The British Beekeeping Association has alerted members to prepare for the worst. It is calling on them to make beehive entrances smaller to deter the large hornets, use wasp traps, and report any sightings immediately.
And Stuart Roberts, chairman of UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society, said: “We’re on red alert for any sightings … There’s not a beekeeper in this country who isn’t aware that this thing is just on the other side of the Channel. We are all on the lookout.”
Invasive species cost the British economy £1.7bn a year, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. And the Government is now drawing up plans to deal with the Asian hornet. A Defra spokesperson said: “The Asian hornet could spread across the UK in just a few years.”
Norman Rabone, 66, a beekeeper from Gillingham, Kent, said: “Hornets are terrible killers of bees. They have a killer instinct.”
Asian hornets usually build large nests in trees. As well as hunting honey bees, they eat other insects and feed on fruit and flowers.
People are also at risk. In France, at least seven people were taken to hospital in 2009 after being attacked.
Bee sting vaccine on the NHS
A ‘vaccine’ that protects people vulnerable to severe reactions from bee and wasps stings is to be made available on the NHS.
People who have already suffered a serious reaction to a bee or wasp sting will be able to ask their GP for the ‘vaccine’ Photo: GETTY IMAGES
About one in 200 people suffer from anaphylaxis when stung by a wasp or bee.
Every year between two and nine people die after going into anaphylatic shock – the most extreme form of anaphylaxis – as a result of being stung.
Contrary to popular belief, wasp stings actually cause twice as many deaths due to anaphylaxis as bee stings.
Now the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which decides on whether treatments can be prescribed on the NHS in England and Wales, has indicated it will approve a product calledPharmalgen.
Given in a series of injections, this works by gradually introducing higher doses of the allergens in bee and wasp venom. Over time, this desensitises a person by gently stimulating their immune system.
Treatment is carried out in two phases: the initial phase and the maintenance phase, which lasts three years.
Anaphylactic reactions are when the immune system responds inappropriately to an allergen, releasing large quantities of chemicals called histamines, that cause blood capillaries to dilate and blood pressure to drop. In extreme cases airways can collapse and the heart can fail.
In draft guidance that is highly likely to be confirmed early next year, Nice announced it was recommending Pharmalgen for people who had experienced “a severe systemic reaction to bee or wasp venom”.
Nice also recommended it for those who had experienced a “moderate systemic reaction” and were also at “a high risk of future stings”, had a raised level of a blood serum known to indicate anaphylaxis, or were “anxious about future stings”.
Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at Nice said: “The reactions that some people experience to stings from bees and wasps can be distressing, frightening and sometimes life-threatening.
“People who have had a serious reaction to a sting can often experience extreme anxiety about possible future stings, and this can affect their daily lives.
“So we are pleased to be able to recommend Pharmalgen as an effective, preventative treatment in preliminary recommendations issued today.”
Pharmalgen is the first preventative medicine for bee and wasp stings that Nice has recommended for approval.
Anaphylaxis can be effectively controlled by quickly administering adrenaline by injection. This constricts blood vessels, relaxes muscles in the lungs to aid breathing, stimlulates the heart to beat properly and stops facial swelling.
However, sometimes it cannot be given quickly enough. Last October farmer John Croall, 52, died after being stung while herding sheep in a remote field near Balkeerie, Angus. Ambulance crews were unable to reach him soon enough and the father-of-three died after suffering anaphylactic shock.
Moira Austin, of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, welcomed Nice’s decision to approve it.
She said: “The Anaphylaxis Campaign has been participating as a patient/carer consultee in the Pharmalgen appraisal, representing those living with severe allergy to bee or wasp venom.
“We have spoken with many individuals who have been successfully treated with Pharmalgen and who have, as a result, experienced a significant improvement in their quality of life.
“We are delighted with the appraisal committee’s preliminary recommendations and look forward to their final recommendations.“
There could be some eyebrows raised about the cost of providing the treatment. Nice usually sets a ceiling of £30,000 per ‘quality adjusted life year’ (QALY) that a medication brings.
Its appraisal committee modelled the cost at £13,800 per QALY, but this was based on a course of Pharmalgen remaining effective for 20 years, for which members admitted there was no evidence.
The committee also said the cost assumption was highly sensitive to the number of stings a person might receive: the fewer, the less cost-effective it was.
Telegraph 27th August 2011
Man survives being stung 400 times by bees
A 95-year-old California was stung more than 400 times by a massive swarm of bees and survived.
Exterminators had made several attempts to remove the enormous hive from the roof of the apartment building Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The attack came as the man was walking past an apartment building in the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach on Wednesday where an exterminator was pumping poison into a giant hive of bees, Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Phil Keenan said.
“The bees became highly agitated and came after the fumigator, who was dressed appropriately and only got stung a few times,” Keenan said.
Sgt Keenan said the exterminator quickly retreated but the 95-year-old man was attacked by thousands of bees, which were possibly Africanized.
“He tries to walk or run as fast as he can for being 95 years old and, according to his daughter, there was a Fed Ex truck there so he jumped in the Fed Ex truck,” Keenan said. “The Fed Ex driver gets attacked by the bees also.”
At that point firefighters wearing protective gear arrived and scraped the bees from the man before rushing him to the hospital for treatment of hundreds of bee stings.
“The hospital gave up counting at 400,” Sft Keenan said. “He was probably stung between 500 and 600 times. Obviously he’s not allergic but he was stung everywhere – the mouth, eyes, nose, ears.”
He said the man’s daughter told police that her father was in good shape and joking at the hospital, where doctors were expected to release him later on Thursday.
Sgt Keenan said exterminators had made several attempts to remove the enormous hive from the roof of the apartment building, at one point removing part of the roof and carrying off more than 100 pounds of hive and honey.
Crews were expected to return on Thursday evening for another attempt, he said, during which police will likely cordon off the street.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Africanized or “killer” bees swarm more frequently than their European counterparts and can become highly defensive in protecting their hive.