Arizona Bee Attack: Africanized Swarm Overwhelms Neighborhood On Halloween

While the Halloween weekend kicked off in Arizona with an entertaining scare from a rampaging runaway pumpkin, a far more frightening and dangerous event unfolded when Halloween actually arrived, with a swarm of aggressive Africanized bees going into attack mode.

The bee attack took place in a Maricopa, Arizona, neighborhood, with at least six people suffering bee sting injuries that required them to be rushed to the hospital, reports the Daily Mail.

It was around 5 p.m. Saturday, in Maricopa’s Rancho El Dorado neighborhood located south of Phoenix, when the bee attack occurred, according to a fire department press release. A wide area covering about two blocks was subjected to the swarming bee attack, sending people running and screaming in an effort to escape the aggressive, dangerous, and potentially fatal Africanized strain of honey bees.

Bees swarm a home
The aggressive Africanized honey bee took up residence in Arizona in the early 1990s, their interactions with people and their homes often dangerous and sometimes fatal. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

As residents of the Maricopa neighborhood reacted with understandable panic to the aggressive Africanized bee attack, fire crews searched the area for the bee hive.

A few hours into their search, following the bee attack, fire personnel struck gold, locating the bee hive in an open water valve box of one of the neighborhood homes. The fire crew then proceeded to decimate the bee hive with foam, turning the tables on the attacking bees, killing them and destroying the hive.

The bee attack resulted in six people being rushed to the hospital. Three of them were adults and three were children, one of the adults taking the brunt of the Arizona Africanized bee attack with almost 300 bee stings was identified after the victim checked into the hospital.

A couple of firefighters were also stung while responding to the bee attack, though they didn’t require any extensive treatment and didn’t need to go to the hospital.

The aggressive Africanized strain of bees have been a particular terror in Arizona over the summer, with several people finding themselves in the middle of a swarming attack, resulting in multiple stings and trips to the hospital.

The aggressive, and sometimes killer, Africanized honey bee is the resulting outcome of efforts in 1950s Brazil to cross-breed a bee that could produce more honey. To do this, the Brazilian experimenters hooked up the European honey bee with African honey bees, resulting in a creature that has come to be called the killer bee.

Some of these bees escaped their Brazilian quarantine and headed north, over the decades making their way into the United States, and establishing themselves as an unwelcome menace ever since.

Arizona, along with its Southwestern neighbors, New Mexico and Texas, provide a warm and dry environment that the killer bees particularly enjoy.

And they’re called killer bees for a reason, as reported in a 1997 story from the Tucson Citizen.

Frank Garcia was killed by a swarm of Africanized bees in 1997 at the age of 72. Garcia had been preparing a property for some new tenants when a killer bee hive was inadvertently disturbed, setting off the mid-day attack. Garcia was stung repeatedly, said the Pinal County sheriff department at the time, and died two hours after the attack.

In the video below, the devastating bee attack on Garcia is documented, showcasing the aggressiveness of the bees and the often lethal results.

The Africanized bees are believed to have shown up in Arizona in the early 1990s, attacking and killing an 88-year-old Apache Junction woman, and in a separate attack, a 67-year-old Carefree man, both of those bee attacks occurring in October, 1995.

“We need to learn to adapt to a new and dangerous animal,” Steven C. Thoenes, an entomologist and president of BeeMaster, a Tucson bee removal company, said at the time.

Eric Erickson, who directed the federal Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson in 1997, also said at the time that if people aren’t careful, killer bee attacks will happen “again and again.”

And now, in 2015, their words ring true. Though fortunately in this latest Arizona killer bee attack, no lives were lost.

[Image by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images. Video via YouTube]

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