Bees attacked a group of 80 children ages 2 to 6 at “Bunny Park” near Johannesburg Friday, sending 44 of the preschoolers to the hospital. Four of the children were critically injured by the bee stings.
The children were playing with rabbits at the park and waiting for the bus when they were stung by a large swarm of bees.
“They were waiting for a bus when things went drastically wrong,” Chris Botha, a spokesman for an ambulance service told South Africa’s BNO News. “A swarm of bees came out of nowhere and attacked the children.”
It wasn’t immediately clear exactly how many children were stung or injured in the incident.
“Four of them were in a critical condition when the paramedics arrived on scene,” Botha said. “One of the critically injured children was airlifted with the Netcare medical helicopter to the Charlotte Maxeke hospital.”
The incident spurred a large emergency response from ambulances across the region.
It is unknown what caused the swarm of bees to attack the children, and investigators are still trying to determine what happened. They did say, however, that they do not believe the bees were aggressive Africanized honey or “killer” bees.
A swarm of killer bees did, however, attack two people in Tampa, Florida this week. David Zeledon and Rodney Pugh were removing a pile of trash near the entrance of Picnick Island Park when they tipped over a truck tire by accident. They were then attacked by over 100,000 killer bees.
“It was like a thousand little knives poking me in my body,” Pugh said. “It was like bees all in the cab … So I’m trying to swat, and they say never to swat bees…”
Pugh and Zeledon were eventually able to escape from the swarm, but they both ended up suffering hundreds of bee stings. They were taken to the hospital and treated with antibiotics, and both are expected to live.
In Texas in August 2012, a man was attacked by a swarm of 125,000 killer bees and stung about 300 times. The attack was described as the worst bee attack of the year in the state. The man was working in a warehouse in Pflugerville, a suburb of Austin, when he tried to move a wooden cabinet. Inside the cabinet was the gigantic swarm of bees, who tried to defend their hive.
While Africanized honey bees are more aggressive than European honey bees, “deaths from their stings are very rare.”