Hospital installs hives to ease children’s bee and wasp sting fears

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To ease the fear of children who have had life-threatening reactions from wasp and bee stings, a hospital installed beehives.

Cork University Hospital became home to tens or thousands of honeybees as part of a unique project.

The CCTV system at the entry points to the beehives will allow patients to view the insects from their waiting rooms.

The 15,000 euro project, funded by CUH Charity, has been three years in the making – and will also produce the hospital’s own brand of CUHoney.

Hospital installs hives to ease children’s bee and wasp sting fearsIulia, 10, and Eric Dumitrescu (7 years old), whose mother Anda works as a consultant paediatrician for CUH. Eric is a keen beekeeper and is pictured at the new hives at Wilton Hospital (Brian Lougheed/PA).

The Wilton campus hosts children who have experienced life-threatening allergic reactions from bee and wasp bites.

Treatment requires immunotherapy – intensive, long-term injections of venom doses – which helps the immune system build up a tolerance to the venom.

Many patients, even though they have a connection to beekeeping, keep their distance.

Paediatrics allergy consultant Dr Juan Trujillo said the project is vital in reassuring patients that they can continue to live life in the same way – with a reduced possibility of a life-threatening event from a sting.

“They need to know that allergies are everywhere but with this kind of treatment, they will have less anxiety in the future,”He said.

The introduction of the hives will also boost biodiversity across the campus while helping to reverse Ireland’s declining bee population.

CUH treats as many as 20 anaphylaxis patients each year. They have now established two hives and pollenating gardens. However, trees and wildflowers must be planted before this can happen.

We’ll need beekeepers to watch the bees during the summer. They will need to be checked every seven-10 days depending on how active they are.

Dr Anda Dumitrescu

The Cork healthcare facility, which already holds a Green Flag award from An Taisce, does not have to go far to find someone to look after its winged guests – several hospital staff are also beekeepers.

One of them is Dr Anda Dumitrescu, of the Department of Paediatrics at UCC, who said the project will enable all children attending CUH as inpatients to learn about bees and their ecosystems at CUH’s school.

“Visits to the hives in CUH can be facilitated with the provision of protective clothing and will enhance their experience while in hospital and improve their quality of life while recovering,”She said.

“We will need to mind the bees frequently during the summer and check them every seven-10 days, depending on their activity.

“I am a beekeeper and we could look at volunteers to help from different departments in the hospital.”

Ruaidhri DeBarra, CUH’s sustainable environment officer, is also involved in the project.

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