Killer Bee Attack: Arizona Swarm Stings At Least 20 Outside Community Mosque

A swarm of killer bees attacked people outside a Phoenix, Arizona, community mosque Friday, authorities say. The bee attack resulted in at least 20 people being stung, one to the point he had to hospitalized — with some of the swarm being caught on video.

ABC News reported April 1 that a swarm of bees, identified as the Africanized type of honey bee commonly referred to as “killer bees,” surrounded attendees at the Phoenix Muslim Community Mosque as they left the facility, causing panic and inflicting multiple stings to those that got in their way. According to the Phoenix Fire Department, which sent vehicles to the scene in response to a 911 call, at least 20 people had been stung. One individual, a 24-year-old male, received transport to a nearby hospital, but according to Fire Department spokesperson Ardell Deliz, he was in stable condition during the ride.

In a video posted by ABC’s Good Morning America, thousands of bees can be seen flying around surveillance cameras outside the building. Other footage shows people covered in blankets, for protection against the swarming bees, getting into an emergency vehicle. Individuals can be seen shaking themselves and the blankets to hopefully dislodge any attached bees.

According to the announcer, some of the killer bees even got into the mosque itself. One man, who witnessed the incident, said, “It was just crazy. They were blocking the whole street just because of bees. I saw people running everywhere. Some people even fall in the grass over there. They get up and they start running.”

A 2011 Scientific American article noted that, according to Centers for Disease Control data, bee sting venom accounted for 71 percent of all venom-related deaths in the U.S. from 1999-2007. In all, stings from bees, wasps, and hornets accounted for 509 of 714 venom-related deaths.

Joseph Mikesell with Truly Nolen, an Arizona-based pest control service, told KSAZ in Phoenix, “It’s always a bad situation when you’re talking about Africanized bees, because once one bee creates a pheromone which sends off the other bees to attack. What people just need to understand is they cannot outrun them, they’re not going to sink under water and stay away from them, they’re not going to just knock them off, they need to stay away from them. If you see bee activity get inside, don’t try and take care of it yourself, contact a professional and let us take care of the situation.”

Phoenix firefighters doused the area in a special foam used to calm the aggressive insects. Still, it took three hours to gain control of the area around the mosque. It took a few hours for professional beekeepers to arrive on scene to remove the bees.

Friday’s victims of the killer bee attack were far more fortunate than some other Arizona residents have been in recent years. A swarm of 800,000 killer bees descended in Douglas, Arizona, in October 2014, leaving one man dead and six more stung multiple times, including a firefighter responding to the scene.

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Tucson News Now reported that two of those stung had to be hospitalized. A 32-year-old landscaper went into cardiac arrest after being stung hundreds of times, according to witnesses. Four of the men stung worked for Douglas ARC, an organization that aids individuals with developmental disabilities. The men were there to do various jobs around the home of a 90-year-old man (who escaped the attack uninjured). The other victim was a neighbor.

Jesus Corella of Southwest Exterminating, who came in after the killer bee attack to remove the swarm, told Tucson News Now that he found a massive nest stretching between two and six feet between the ceiling and attic. He estimated the bee nest to be at least a decade old.

The house was uninhabitable while the nest was removed. The homeowner was relocated with relatives.

The Phoenix News Times reported after the Douglas killer bee attack that the incident wasn’t an exception for Arizona. The media outlet listed the top ten bee attacks since the Africanized honey bee entered the state, estimated to have occurred in 1993.

[Image via Shutterstock]