One man died and two people required hospital treatment after they were stung “hundreds of times” by a swarm of bees near Tucson, Arizona, this week.
In a sentence posted on social media on Thursday, the Northwest Fire District said it was called to an incident in which “at least six people were stung multiple times.”
“Three patients, believed to have been stung hundreds of times, were transported or received a medical evaluation,” the statement said.
The fire district said a man died. He was not immediately identified.
The fire district also said: “Three of our firefighters were stung multiple times while taking the call. A firefighter, believed to have been stung approximately 60 times, was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. Since then, he has been released. The other two firefighters did not need medical treatment.
“A large open hive, estimated to be around 100 pounds, was located in a nearby tree.”
Bee swarms are a relatively common and sometimes dangerous occurrence in Arizona. In 2015, for example, a man survived 500 to 1,000 stings after disturbing a hive. Months later, six people were injured in another swarm.
According to For the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, most of the Arizona swarms involve Africanized honey bees, a cross between African and European bees popularly but mistakenly known as Assasins bees, leaving one hive to start another.
“Swarms are generally tame regardless of type,” says the center, as “the swarm has no resources (brood, queen, food) to protect. In fact, they can be quite vulnerable during the swarming process, as they do not have the protection of a home.
“Africanized bees do not fly in angry swarms to randomly attack unfortunate victims. Africanized bee sting incidents occur when the actual nest site is disturbed, not the swarm. “
He also says that Africanized bees “can become very defensive to protect their hive. [and] Defensive behavior can range from mild to severe.
“A good safety precaution is to keep at least 100 feet, or the width of a four-lane highway, from any African bee hive. It is always advisable to be careful with regard to all the activity of bees, whether in managed or feral hives ”.
After the fatal incident near Tucson, the Marana Police Department saying: “The bee handlers have killed most of the bees and removed the hive. Although the area is much safer, there are still some bees left ”.
Residents were warned to avoid the area.
Bee experts condemn the image of “killer bees” in popular culture, as underscored by a 1978 thriller starring Michael Caine, The Swarm.
On their website, the Southern Arizona Beekeepers Association advise: “The likelihood of a person encountering wild bee colonies in the southwestern desert is higher than in other parts of the country. However the chances of dying from honey bee stings … is several times less than getting struck by lightning. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism