A hive that harbored 800,000 bees erupted without warning and a swarm attacked a landscaping crew as they mowed and weeded a lawn. These angry Africanized bees took their wrath out on the several people who were on the property, killing one and putting another man in the hospital in critical condition, according to CNN News on Oct. 9.
The hive measured three feet by eight feet and it was mostly tucked away in the attic of the home with access for the bees to get in and out under an eave of the house, where part of the hive was exposed to the outside. It is not known if the 90-year-old homeowner knew that the hive was there, but authorities said that it looked to be about 10-years-old, reports USA Today.
To get to the hive the exterminator had a cut a hole through the ceiling of the home. The exterminator was called after the swarm had sent its victims to the hospital. It is estimated that both the man who died in this attack and the man who is in the hospital in critical condition were stung at least 100 times each.
The man who was killed and the man who is in critical condition today were with the Douglas ARC, an agency that provides supported employment for those with developmental disabilities. They were on a landscaping crew working in the yard for the 90-year-old homeowner.
Four workers were stung all together, with the other two refusing treatment when the medical emergency responders arrived on scene. A neighbor, who received stings when the swarm came her way, drove herself to Cochise Regional Hospital for treatment.
Firefighters went around the neighborhood telling folks to stay inside and to keep their windows closed. It is not clear what riled up the bees, but it could have been the sound of the lawn mower that agitated the hive.
Because of the massive hive and the 800,000 bees that called it home, officials blocked off a four-block area around the home. Firefighters dressed in protective bee suits, which is standard equipment for the Douglas Fire Department, helped the exterminators remove the hive.
The fire department first removed part of the eaves and roof on the house before going inside and pulling down the ceiling to get at the entire hive. When the extermination was complete the remains of this heavy hive filled a 55-gallon drum.
Douglas Fire Department receives one to two calls a week about bee swarms or hives, but they have never seen anything like this hive which was on a grand scale. The fire department treats all calls as if they are Africanized bees, as they’ve seen very few honey bees over the past few years.
The town of Douglas sits on the Mexico-Arizona border, about 120 miles southeast of Tucson.