An elderly woman visiting family in Palm Desert, CA. was caught up in a killer bee attack on Thursday. The woman, who remains unnamed, was completely covered by the Africanized honey bees and was stung over 1,000 times. She suffered serious injuries, but is now in stable condition and is expected to survive the attack.
The incident began when a Verizon worker was called out to the area to check on an underground cable box. He found the swarm of roughly 75,0000 bees inside the box, which points to the fact that it was likely not installed properly because the lids weighs 40 pounds and the bees should not have been able to penetrate it. His presence angered the bees and the swarm of killer bees got out.
The 71-year-old victim was just visiting and is from another state. On her way to the car, the killer bees attacked her and soon had her completely covered. California Fire Battalion Chief Mark Williams said she was “covered from head to toe in bees” when they arrived on the scene and that rescuers were even finding stings in her mouth.
Responders reportedly covered the woman being attacked by killed bees in a blanket and got her inside of the house. She was transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance, where she suffers from injuries related to more than 1,000 bee stings. She was not the only one hurt in the incident, however. Three firefighters were transported to Riverside County Hospital after being caught up the in the killer bee attack. The Verizon employee, two firefighters and several neighbors were also treated on site for their bee stings. At that point, area residents were warned to stay indoors.
The hybrid Africanized honey bees are known to be defensive, the first of which were identified in California in 1985. It is not unusual for these killer bees to live in underground hives, which are highly guarded. They are also known to relentlessly attack anyone of anything they perceive as a threat. Though their stings are no more dangerous than any other type of bee, they get their reputation as the killer bees because of the nature of their swarms and their tendency to get aggressive.
Veteran beekeeper, Lance Davis, is the owner of Killer Bee Inc., a privately owned live bee removal service. He stepped in and removed the bees, free of charge. He was called for assistance and took the bees to his own hive for honey production. He plans to add a queen bee to the hive eventually.
“Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get these guys angry,” Davis said. He claims that the killer bees likely attacked the woman simply because she was in close proximity. She did not do anything to provoke the bees, she simply failed to move fast enough to avoid their attack. He was able to remove the bees without being stung and attributes that skill to his reputation as the “bee whisperer.”
The woman who was stung by over 1,000 killer bees is expected to fully recover, as are all of the other Palm Desert residents who were involved with the swarm of Africanized honey bees.
By Tracy Rose
ABC News: Woman Expected to Survive 1,000 Killer Bee Stings
NY Daily News: Swarm of killer bees attack elderly California woman, sting more than 1,000 times
USA Today: Woman suffers 1,000 stings as bees swarm Calif. street
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