Bee Attack: 800,000 Colony Swarm Of ‘Killer’ Bees Fatally Sting Arizona Man

One Arizona man died and another was injured Wednesday after a swarm of Africanized bees attacked the yard workers. Experts say scores of stinging killer bees, from a colony of 800,000-strong, became agitated and repeatedly stung the victims, before rescue workers arrived and began rescue operations.

On the day of the fatal bee attack, four men were performing landscaping duties for a 90-year-old homeowner, which included grass cutting and trimming of weeds on the senior’s property. The hired workers were employed through Douglas ARC, a company that assists people with various disabilities to find gainful employment.

According to Fire Chief Mario Novoa, without warning, the four came under a viscous attack by a swarm of bees, and were all stung by the colony of aggressive African honey bees. Authorities were called to the scene, and upon arrival, fire fighters met with four victims who all suffered numerous stings in the attack. A woman was also stung, but her relationship to the scene is unknown at this time. Apparently, she managed to drive herself to a doctor.

One man was taken to the hospital where he later died and another was listed in critical condition from the bee attack. Two other workers stung by the insect swarm refused medical attention. As a precaution, authorities cordoned off a four-block area, according to USA Today. Victims suffered as many as 100 stings, according to CNN. The local fire chief has experience responding to problem bees, but the man’s death took him by surprise.

“We get calls about bees fairly often but I’ve never seen anything to this extent. This is the first time we have recorded a death in our community from bees.”

An exterminator arrived on the scene, and found a bee hive measuring some 3-feet-tall and 8-feet-wide, which presented a challenge to remove. However, the massive bees nest was taken down after cutting through the ceiling. The remnants of the hive filled a 55-gallon drum, the fire chief said.

“There are not many European honey bees left around here, so we treat them all as Africanized bees,” said Chief Novoa.

At this time, it’s not clear what caused the attack, but according to Novoa, there are not many native honeybees remaining in the area, and the assumption is any sightings are likely Africanized killer bees. The species is thought to have been introduced via Brazil in the 50s in an effort to bolster honey production in the United States. However, large numbers of bees escaped quarantine and managed to set up colonies along border states. The town of Douglas, where the fatal bee attack took place, sits along the Mexican border and is located about a two-hour drive from Tucson.

[Image via: One News Page]

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