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Aunt Maneka loves birds and animals. She is an environmentalist and a Member of Parliament, but her love for animals supersedes both.


Q: We have recently moved to a bigger house with a nice garden and trees. My mother put bird feeders in our garden. But there have hardly been any birds that have come to the feeder. I give them mixed pulses soaked and softened in water or I give bread and water. Why won’t the birds come and feed?

-Radha, 10 years, Mumbai


Dear Radha, Birds like to eat from a clean feeder. Make sure the feeder is clean. They don’t come if they feel threatened. Hence the positioning of your feeders plays a very vital role. Place them in a quiet secluded area that doesn’t see much activity. Another reason might be that there are already enough sources of food and water in that area, that the birds don’t need to feed from your feeder. Give the birds dry food as mixed pulses softened in water often get fungi. Be patient. Don’t lose heart. With time you will have more and more birds coming to your garden.


Q. What do I do if I am stung by a bee or wasp?

-Vivek, 8 years, New Delhi


Dear Vivek, A bee stings and leaves its stinger in your skin. This stinger consists of a venom sac which continues to pump the bee toxin into your bloodstream. The first thing to do would be to scrape out the stinger from the base (and not pinch it out from the top because that way the venom sac will be pinched and it’ll squeeze out even more toxin into the blood). The trick is to remove the sting as fast as possible. The most effective way to remove a bee stinger is by scraping the stinger away from the direction that it came from, and this can be achieved by using a driver’s license or credit card.

In case of wasps, though they don’t leave their stings behind, the venom from the sting may also have a similar effect. Once the stinger is removed in case of bee stings) the wound should be washed with soap and water. The easiest kitchen remedies include making a paste of baking soda, or rubbing apple cider vinegar or lemon juice over the stung area. Rubbing a cut potato may have some effect. One can also apply ice. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief (Ask your Doctor). If the person is allergic to bee/wasp venom then seek immediate medical attention especially if the tongue swells, there is difficulty in breathing, you observe a sudden rash, or nausea or blurred vision.