Nest disturbed before bees killed penguins, says vet

Posted by David Henning on 21 September 2021

After 63 penguins were found dead on Boulders Beach with multiple bee stings last week, a seabird veterinarian has weighed in, not only confirming that the penguins died from the bee stings, but that the swarm of bees must have been disturbed.

Veterinarians from the Southern African Foundation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) investigated the cause of death, revealing that the birds suffered no other wounds or bite marks.

In an interview with CapeTalk on 20 September 2021, seabird veterinarian at SANCCOB, Dr David Roberts says the swarm of bees that attacked the penguins must have been disturbed. Even though the Cape Honeybees responsible are part of the local ecosystem, he maintains that this is an extremely rare occurrence.

‘We expect that this was an event caused by bees being disturbed somewhere in the vicinity, maybe a tree was chopped down or somebody tried to raid a nest and take honey out of it or something else happened that got the bees agitated,’ he told CapeTalk.

Roberts maintains that even though this is a ‘fluke event’, it’s not really a threat for the future.

‘We’re not really afraid that these are going to cause problems again. Penguins and bees have both been in the area for a very long time and bees are a very important part of the natural ecosystem there,’ Roberts said

Even though he believes the Boulders Beach colony will not be drastically affected, it may have an adverse impact on the endangered species overall.

Picture: Unsplash


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