New project at Cork hospital aims to help children who have suffered severe reactions to bee, wasp stings

Patients will be able to watch insects from waiting rooms via CCTV camera system installed at entry points to the hives

Cork University Hospital (CUH) has become home to tens of thousands of honeybees as part of a project to help ease the anxiety of children who have suffered life-threatening reactions to bee and wasp stings.

The €15,000 project, funded by the CUH Charity, is three years in development. Patients will be able to watch the insects from waiting rooms via a CCTV camera system installed at entry points to the hives. The bees will also produce the hospital’s own brand of “CUHoney”.

CUH is the national centre for the treatment of children who have endured life-threatening allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings.

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


Paediatrics allergy consultant, Dr Juan Trujillo, says the project will help to reassure 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 trying to reverse Ireland’s declining bee population.

CUH, which treats up to twenty patients with anaphylaxis every year, has introduced pollinating gardens and two hives, potentially accommodating 40,000 bees.

Meanwhile, the hospital didn’t have to go far to find someone to look after its winged guests as several staff are also experienced beekeepers.

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

“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.

“We will need to mind the bees frequently during the summer and check them every seven-ten days, depending on their activity. I am a beekeeper and we could look at volunteers to help from different departments in the hospital.”