Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Phoenix, AZ, Bees kill 2 dogs, severely injure family members

KPHO.com 23 Sep 2010:

A swarm of bees attacked and killed two pet dogs Thursday at a home near 24th Street and Indian School Road in Phoenix.
Robert Tomkins said that by the time a neighbor called to tell him there was a swarm of bees by his home, he could only get two of his dogs indoors. He said a couple hundred bees got inside the house, stinging him about 50 times. He said his wife and young son were also stung.Two dogs could not be saved in time -- Lucky, a Dalmatian and Baby, a Labrador-pit bull mix. They were were stung hundreds of times and died from their injuries."They’re like family. It’s hard. It’s like losing a loved one. It hurts. We still have one at the vet -- don’t know if he’s going to make it or not," said Tomkins. “We pulled 35 stingers out of my dog’s ears -- that’s just his ears."Tomkins said he wants to caution others to be aware and alert -- the bee attack happened faster than he could ever have imagined.

See more of the story here:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

San Marco, TX: Man survives over 1,200 Bee stings near his home

September 7, 2010
San Marcos Daily Record
Anita Miller

When Lamar LaCaze named the road that leads to his house after his wife, he figured living on Lois Lane made a good case that he was Superman.

After he was nearly killed by a swarm of bees last week, his wife's buying in.

"Anyone who can survive that many bee stings is Superman," Lois LaCaze said Saturday from her husband's bedside at Seton Hospital in Kyle.

Lamar LaCaze, 65, longtime San Marcos barber, was attacked by bees while mowing Aug. 31. Emergency room workers pulled more than 1,200 stingers out of his body and whole bees from his ears, nose, mouth and throat.

The attack came just after he started mowing on the property off FM 150 between IH-35 and Hwy. 21.

"I made one loop and started up a little hill. It wouldn't go, so I took a right. The bees — like that — just flashed up in my face," he said.

He got off his tractor and fell. Intending to get to a water trough and get his head under, he made it "about 25 yards" before being unable to crawl over a fence. "I couldn't stand up. They just keep buzzing me."

LaCaze had his cell phone. He managed to open his eyes enough to call his wife "but it went to voice mail, she was working." Then he tried his son Trey. "It rang six times and I hung up."

Sometime around then Trey got home and had grown concerned about his father's whereabouts. Then his cell phone rang again. "I'm in bees," his father told him.

Trey rushed to the scene and initially searched a different area. When he did find his father he was slumped over the fence. "He was not moving. When I went to pull him out he looked up. His head was black, solid bees. It looked like a bee hive on his head."

Trey threw buckets of water on his father and a neighbor, Rudy Cisneros, came with a fire extinguisher. Lamar's granddaughter called 911 and when Kyle firefighters arrived, Trey noted they "suited up" before spraying the attackers and his father with foam.

Five days after the suicide bombing — bees die once they inject their stinger — Lamar LaCaze was a frightening sight. The swelling had subsided, the family said, but  the area around his eyes was still blackened, one ear looked as if its lobe had exploded, and black bloody spots dotted his face, head, neck and arms.

Saturday was the first day he could really open his eyes, and he coughed intermittently.

Luckily, he was wearing heavy blue jeans and stingers didn't penetrate the starched fabric.

Rushed to Seton by EMS, he was a center of attention.

"It was like you see on TV," his wife recalls, with medical professionals  completely surrounding her husband. When they gave her the jeans they'd cut off of him, "they said be careful getting things out of his pockets — they're full of stingers."

The family was on Saturday anticipating his release from the hospital within days. After that, there will be outpatient followups until his body has completely processed all the bee venom. "It ruined my kidneys sort of. My heart enzymes are bad," he said.

The family figures he encountered the bees around 2 p.m., and that about an hour and a half elapsed before Trey arrived on the scene. "I didn't see one bee. I seen a thousand," LaCaze recalls. "They were relentless."

Each of the family members experienced their own nightmare that day. Lamar LaCaze flatly didn't think he was going to make it. His wife — after a mad dash from San Marcos — thought this was the time she would lose him. His son, on first glance, thought he was already dead.

"There are so many things this venom in your body can cause. We're just pleased he's with us — just happy he's alive," Lois said.

The hive that had streamed out of a hollow tree is still on their property. They want them destroyed, but haven't yet been able to arrange that.

Lois LaCaze was employed at the Hays County Extension Office when the "killer bee" invasion occurred in the 1990s and back then when interest was high, "we had people signed up to go get hives."

No such list exists now. "I'm sure there's somebody out there, and we're going to keep looking," she said.

To confirm whether the swarm was actually Africanized honeybees, or hybrids with European honey bees, or a mix, would mean sending samples to A&M. "You've got to collect them and send them in and that's a dangerous situation," Lois LaCaze said. Still, she's like to try. "The neighbors want to know," she said.

"They're not worth anything, they don't even make much honey," Lamar LaCaze said of the aggressive bees.  "I don't want any one of them to get away. I don't want them to go nowhere else."

He also won't be climbing back on that tractor any time soon. "I don't want to go outside this hospital without one of those bee suits," he said with a chuckle and cough. "They have no mercy," he said of the bees.

Bee attacks typically occur when a hive is swarming, which Africanized bees do much more frequently than European honey bees.  Attacks can be precipitated by loud noise and vibrations like those made by LaCaze's tractor, A&M says, noting that attacks have been triggered by those activities "up to 100 feet or more" from the hive and "pedestrian activity up to 50 feet " away.

Bees attack the victim's head because they are attracted to animal breath, according to A&M. Other attractants include "hair, dark colors, new mown grass, citrus-scented candles and perfume."

A&M has information on bee proofing homes and landscapes and more at http://honeybee.tamu.edu/index.html.

"I've heard about these bees, you know, but I never thought about any of them just attacking like this," Lamar LaCaze says. "I didn't even see them coming. All of a sudden they were just there."

LaCaze has owned and operated Lamar's Barber shop for 38 years. He's been barbering in San Marcos for 46. The shop remains open during his recovery.

Read the rest of the story here.

Entomologist's Comment:

African Honey Bee attacks will continue to occur with increasing frequency. Here are some links with helpful info:


Our African Bee info page

Killer Bees in Orlando during a 6 hour removal process:


University of Florida's African Honey Bee Extension & Education Program

The African Honey Bee FAQ

Frequently asked questions about African honey bees, from FDACS - Division of Plant Industry
Bee Removal information and regulations from University of Florida's African Honey Bee Extension & Education Program

Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab

University of Florida's Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist

Sunday, September 12, 2010

San Antonio, TX: Bee atttack sends two men to hospital

Sep 11, 2010

Two men were stung at least 30 times each at their far Southwest Side home by swarming bees Saturday, city fire officials said.
A firefighter who showed up to help also was stung, a Fire Department commander said.
Neither the two residents of the home in the 6100 block of Frio Valley nor fire Capt. Brian Soberalski were seriously injured, although the two residents were taken to Southwest General Hospital for treatment, said acting Battalion Chief Jarrett Vocke.
He said neither man appeared badly hurt, although both were stung “at least” 30 times, likely more.
It was not clear if the bees were Africanized killer bees.
Vocke said the men were doing yardwork when they came close to shrubs in the backyard.
A large swarm of bees attacked the men, who retreated to the home and summoned emergency responders.
“The bees were swarming pretty heavily when first responders arrived,” Vocke said. “But they quickly calmed down, so we were not required to spray” them with water to stop them from attacking, he said.
Vocke said the swarm, while large, was not a threat to neighbors.
But they were a threat for Soberalski, whose engine company was one of the first to arrive.
Vocke said at least one bee crawled over the firefighter's collar and under his fire hat, stinging him on the head.
He was not treated, Vocke said.
“He wasn't fazed by it at all,” Vocke said. “He continued on the job, 'cause he grew up on a ranch, and he's used to it.”
Vocke said city vector control officers would be investigating today to make sure “that the bees are no longer a problem,” or to dispose of them if they are.

read the rest of the story here 

Entomologist's Comments:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

African Honey Bees Kill farmer in Guyana Rice Field, injure others

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Hundreds of Africanized "killer" bees have stung a rice farmer to death in the South American nation of Guyana. It is the second such death of a Guyanese farmer in two weeks.

Police identify the latest victim as 45-year-old Jerome O'Brian Scott. A statement says Scott and two other men were swarmed Thursday as they headed home from a rice farm in Liverpool Village.

Read the rest of the story here.

And another account of the Bee attack:

Bees attacked and killed a farmer yesterday in an area aback of Liverpool Village on the Corentyne as he was returning home from tending to his rice field.
Dead is 45-year-old Jerome O’Brian Scott also known as ‘Bunch’ of Liverpool Village.
According to his son, Michael Scott, he and his father left home in the morning to go “in the backdam to bail water from the rice field”, after heavy rainfall on Wednesday.

Jerome O'Brian Scott
After they had completed their work in the backdam, Michael Scott said, they saw a dragline which was clearing drains in the same area. As the operator was making his way out with the machine, he added, they decided to join him for a ride out.
After about fifteen minutes on the machine, he told Stabroek News, “honey bees attack we from nowhere. Me just knock the glass and the man stop and open and we start fuh run.” He said he held his father’s hand as they ran and together they plunged into a nearby trench. Most of the bees were swarming his father, Michael said, and he (Jerome) took another direction. He said when he realized this he called after his father, but he was nowhere in sight.
Then he heard “some groans” and saw his father who appeared to be experiencing some difficulty.
Michael said he told his father, “come in the corner hay” and took him out of the water, even though bees continue to swarm them. He said his father then told him, “son me can’t mek am, gwan [go on]“.
He tried to carry away some of the bees by going away, he said, and at the same time seek help. He found another farmer, ‘Nutman’, who was on a horse, and related the story to him. They both returned to where his father was but “when we meet back deh, he just lie down like he dead with he face inside a water”.
They went back to look for a tractor to transport him home. They found John Corlette, another rice farmer, who brought his father’s body out and took it to the station and then to the Port Mourant Hospital.
Jerome’s wife Pamela Scott, said that he would “go backdam and come home everyday, but me din know that he nah guh come home today,“ as she broke down in tears.

read the rest of the story here
Entomologist's Comments:

4 Children die after honey bee attack

Sept 11, 2010 IBN Live, India

Keonjhar (Orissa), Sep 11 (PTI) Four children including a girl of a family were killed in bee attack in Orissa's Keonjhar district, police said today. 

The incident took place at Sapakanta village under Bansapal block in tribal dominated Keonjhar district yesterday when the children (all below 8-years of age) were guarding their family corn field, they said. The wild bees stung the children when they were sitting on a wooden platform erected to guard the corn field. 

While a four year-old boy died on the spot, two others succumbed to bee attack on their way to hospital. Another died while undergoing treatment at the district headquarter hospital, a health department official said.

Entomologist's Comments:

Tuscon man hospitalized after honey bee attack at his home

Sep. 10, 2010

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD)- A Tucson man is hospitalized after being attacked by a swarm of bees on the city's east side.

It happened at 10:45 a.m. Friday in the 9000 block of East Chickamauga Street, near Broadway and Camino Seco, said Capt. Trish Tracy, a Tucson Fire Department spokeswoman.
Tucson Fire Department responded to a call from a man in his 70's saying he had been attacked by a swarm of bees, Tracy said.

Firefighters arrived to find the man stung more than 100 times, Tracy said. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

A bee removal specialist was headed to the scene to assist with the bee removal, Tracy said. Pima Animal Care Center officials were responding to take care of the man's dog, who was also stung.

Stay tuned to KOLD News 13 live at 5 p.m. and KOLD.com for updates.

Entomologist's comments:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fire Chief describes scene at Prescott, AZ bee attack that killed 2 horses, injured 1 more

Bee swarm attacks three horses, two dead

September 3, 2010

By Neil Clarkson


A fire marshal has described the harrowing sight that greeted firefighters called to save three horses under attack from bees.

"These horses were dying right in front of their eyes and there was nothing they could do about it."
Firefighters sprayed the swarm with a mix of foam and water, but it came too late to save two of the horses, who were covered in thousands of stings.

Fire Marshal Charlie Cook, of the Central Yavapai Fire District, in Prescott Valley, Arizona, described to Horsetalk how firefighters responded to the call on Monday.

Cook said the call came in around 4pm of three horses under attack from a bee swarm at Coyote Springs, on the fringe of Prescott Valley.

The fire station was just six or seven minutes away, but it was too late for the horses.

"When we got to the scene, thousands and thousands of bees were attacking these three horses.

"One of the firefighters said it was one of the worst calls he had ever been on. These horses were dying right in front of their eyes and there was nothing they could do about it."

Cook said huge welts were already visible on the horses when the fire crews arrived.

Firefighters went through 1500 gallons of water which was sprayed on the bees in a mixture with foam. The combination suffocates bees, he says.

A vet called to the scene euthanised two of the horses. A third was saved, but Cook said today he was uncertain how it was faring.

There were around 100 horses on the property, but the bees had only attacked three new horses introduced to the property.

"The bees never attacked the others," he said. "They are obviously territorial in a certain kind of way. The bees obviously knew they were new horses."

Cook said the owner of the property "knew there had been bees living in the walls of the barn for several years, but they had never caused a problem." (see my comments below-RMM)

A beekeeper was called and the walls were stripped to reveal a number of hives, the largest standing about 1.6 metres tall, 60 centimetres wide and about 12 centimetres deep.

Cook said the lesson to be learned was to call a beekeeper early when bees set up hives in an inappropriate place.

For a small fee the beekeepers will, where appropriate, relocate the bees to a more suitable environment, where they can be kept for their honey or to pollinate plants.

He said once the bees become a nuisance and fire crews are called, there is little choice but to kill them for safety reasons.

Cook noted there had been a lot of bee-related calls in Arizona this year.

See the rest of the story here:

Entomologist Comments:

Reading the fire chief's description of this tragic sting event sends chills through me, as we've encountered similar situations, and in most cases, could have been prevented with proper vigilance and action.

Why the owner of the horse facility would knowingly leave active honey bee colonies in a working barn leaves me scratching my head, AND, this is in KILLER BEE territory!! (I normally don't use the term "killer bee" alone, but in this case, I think it's warranted).

I encounter this attitude daily here in Florida, where we have an active and growing KILLER BEE population. We are seeing them move into Florida's prime horse country, near Ocala.( Check this blog post out from just last week, right near horse operations).

Clients often believe that since Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been affecting honey bee populations here in the U.S. , any wild honey bee colony found should be left alone, in order to boost bee populations. While it's true, CCD has reduced bee populations, the affected bees are only in managed bee operations, those kept by beekeepers, from huge commercial operations down to hobby beekeepers. 

Feral (wild) bee populations are not affected by CCD, and are actually exploding here in Florida.

This is so important, let's see it again: Feral bee populations are not affected by CCD, and are exploding here in Florida.

Why such the increase?  KILLER BEES!  Yes, African Honey Bees are a vigorous race of bees, well suited for life in the subtropical clime we find here in Florida. And, they likely have evolved with pathogens & pests that most researchers suspect are a probable cause of CCD. So, it's natural that this vigorous, well adapted bee would do very well in Florida.

So it begs the question. Why would one leave a feral bee colony in a building that houses people, pets or animals? 

I think it's largely due to ignorance, and this ongoing belief, strongly held by some, that bees are naturally gentle, and only sting when provoked. So, it's up to the experts to educate the public, especially those that are at greater risk, including equine operations, about the dangers of these 'new breed' of bees. African Bee infestations can be managed properly, greatly reducing the chances of a sting event, but it takes a new attitude, and working with stinging insect specialists. Beekeepers and standard pest control operators are ill-equipped to control these infestations. (Why not? see our post)

We are educating citizens, companies, utilities, firefighters, police and any interested group about the African Honey Bee and issues surrounding it. Our entomologists give presentations and offer consultations to help you manage this threat and we have specialists that remedy infestations daily. Give us a call at 800.343.5317, send us an email, or visit our website to schedule a presentation or for more info and help.

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc. Entomologist

helpful links:

Our website

University of Florida's African Honey Bee Extension & Education Program

The African Honey Bee FAQ

Frequently asked questions about African honey bees, from FDACS - Division of Plant Industry
Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry

Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab

University of Florida's Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab
The official bee keeping association in the State of Florida

Is your Bee removal company or indivdual licensed?

Structural or Landscape bee removal requires a pest control certification from the Florida Dept. of Agriculture. You can check by Applicator, or Company here. Don't let yourself fall prey to an unlicensed service provider!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prescott AZ: Two horses euthanized after bee attack

8/31/2010 3:16:00 PM The Daily Courier 

Two horses euthanized after bee attack

Two horses were euthanized Monday after being attacked by a swarm of thousands of bees in Coyote Springs just off Kelly Road.

firefighters answered the call at 4 p.m., they found a swarm of
thousands of bees in a field attacking three horses who were covered in
large welts, said Charlie Cook, spokesman for the Central Yavapai Fire

"Firefighters used 2,000 gallons of
water and foam to try to get the bees away from the horses," Cook said.
"The bees only attacked the three new horses that arrived at the ranch
last week."

The property is a large horse ranch with 100 horses, Cook said.

A veterinarian on the scene treated three horses, but two of them were so badly injured that they were euthanized, Cook said. 

A beekeeper came to help remove bees as well, Cook said.

firefighters tore down the walls of a wooden barn, they found multiple
hives," Cook said. "One hive was two feet wide, five and one half feet
tall and six and one half inches deep." 


owner of the place said he knew there were bees in the barn, but they
never bothered him, any other people or the animals so he just left them
alone, Cook said.

"This is one of the worst bee calls we've been called out for," Cook said.

said firefighters with bee protection headgear, one engine, and a
battalion chief were on the scene for two hours taking care of the

The Central Yavapai Fire District
recommends that if you find bees on your property in a wall or other
unusual place that you call a beekeeper or bee removal service to take
care of the problem properly. 

"If bees attack
people or animals, all firefighters can do is foam them and kill them,"
Cook said. "A beekeeper can properly remove bees to a place where they
can be beneficial and used to pollinate fruit trees and other crops."

See the rest of the story here
Entomologist's Comment:

This tragedy was completely preventable. Most bee attacks come from colonies that people know about. They think that the bees are gentle because "the bees are not attacking, at this time, so they must not be African Honey bees, aka, Killer Bees".

Well folks, events like this are happening with more frequency as the African Honey Bee increases it's range and concentration. We encounter mean bees EVERY DAY, and find that lack of concern for nearby bee nests very surprising.

Please, if you have bees in or near structures or trees that are near horses, contact us. We will remove the bees properly, so you have no worries about a sting event. Call us: 800-343-5317 or visit our website at ALLFloridaBeeRemoval.com

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist (and expert bee wrangler!)