Most of our introductions to bees revolve around our parents telling us not to poke their hives, for we’d get stung or the abysmally rated Bee Movie, which in my personal opinion is a masterpiece of film, but that’s beside the point.
As children we were trained that bees can hurt us and that we should call the authorities whenever we come across their hives.
However, most of us are unaware that bees are integral to our ecosystem since they act as pollinators of major crops and if we rid the world of bees, we would suffer from great consequences in terms of our food resources.
Due to this stigma, bees are currently endangered due to habitat loss, pollution and pesticides.
In order to shift the public perception, Malaysian bee organisation, MY Bee Savior Association (BSA), is calling for all Malaysians to educate themselves on the role of bees as well as to contact them instead of official bodies when it comes to removing the hives from residences.
BSA group member, Ooi Leng Chye has spent his time placing his bare hands into hives to further dispel the prevalent stereotype that bees are aggressive insects. In fact, him and his group are dedicated to saving the bees and preventing them from being destroyed by society.
Essentially, he is doing exactly what our parents told us not to do when we were little yet his actions are bringing about positive change when it comes to protecting our ecosystem.
The purpose of the association is to locate nests in hard to reach areas such as under roofs or in trees before carefully removing them in order to take them to new sites.
With ease, Ooi, who’s a software developer by day and beekeeper by night, and other volunteers from BSA scoop the bees with their hands and place them into rattan baskets. The 48-year-old told AFP,
“I’m not afraid of them. Bees only attack out of self-defence. They won’t attack you for no reason – you just need to understand their behaviour.”
Despite that, it doesn’t mean that Ooi has never been stung before. In fact, on one of his trips, he was stung about four times, shrugging it off as a “pretty light” pain.
However, he refuses to wear the beekeeper’s suit because it prevents him from being as gentle as he can with the bees. He does, on some occasions, don the apparel when handling more aggressive bees.
The bees that have been retrieved are taken to the volunteer’s house where they’ll be housed in a makeshift wooden box. The group’s volunteers can handle about 10 cases everyday nationwide and they rely on tip-offs from officials and the public.
This is where we come in.
Instead of calling the fire brigade or other official bodies, BSA urges the public to contact them instead. This is because the standard procedure for those organisations have been known to be torching nests and its inhabitants to dispose of them.
According to the association’s chairman, Norowi Hamid, the goal now is to convince these bodies to hand over that task to them so bees can be taken care of and protected.
Norowi helped set up the group after the mid-2000s when many colonies in the United States and Europe were wiped out by a mysterious scourge called “colony collapse disorder”.
He said it remains a challenging task to convince Malaysians not to be afraid of them but he added that,
“If we do not manage the bees properly, then maybe one day (they) will not be here anymore. Then our future generations will curse us.”
To contact MY Bee Savior Association, Whatsapp the number +60 19-664 8081.
To fund them and learn more about bees, click here.