Hiker Dies After Being Attacked by Deadly Bees
Alex Bestler was hiking with a friend in Usery Mountain Park when he was attacked by Africanized honey bees. The swarm around him was so dense that park employees and other hikers were able to approach. Officials stated that Alex had been stung over 1,000 times by deadly bees. He was covered in bees when he was loaded onto a Sheriff’s vehicle. He was transported to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead. Alex was only 23 years old and was in good health at the time of the attack.
What are Africanized Honey Bees?
Alex lost his life when he disturbed a hive of Africanized honey bees. These bees are a dangerous sub-species, and they are the result of crossbreeding performed in 1956 in Brazil. By 1985, swarms of these deadly bees were present in the United States, and many swarms had established permanent colonies by 1990. Because these bees prefer warm climates, they tend to live in the southern United States.
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How are They Different?
This bee species is much more aggressive than most honey bees. They also become agitated more easily. When they swarm and attack, they release a pheromone that attracts even more bees. When Africanized honey bees feel that their hive is threatened, they attack in large numbers. In fact, an entire hive may participate in an attack. They also pursue their victims for up to a quarter of a mile.
A Growing Problem
The Africanized honey bee epidemic in Arizona continues to grow every year. In 2014, a young man was stung by these ferocious insects over 100 times and suffered from cardiac arrest. The bees completely covered his face and neck. This is common in bee swarm attacks, as they are attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out into the air.
In 2015, an elderly man in Tucson was stung more than 2,000 times when he went outside to do some yard work. Three dogs were killed that year as well. Reed Booth owns a bee removal business in Arizona, and he says that he has received a dramatic increase of requests to remove Africanized honey bee hives from properties. He also states that 500 stings from these bees is equal to the venom in a rattlesnake bite. Since each hive typically houses up to 60,000 bees, it is not uncommon for a person to receive more than 500 stings per attack.
A Deadly Summer
Experts believe that there will be many Africanized honey bee attacks in 2016 because early spring rains resulted in a good blooming season in Arizona. The summer is the most dangerous time due to the fact that the bees become even more protective of their haves with pollen is scarce.
It is important to protect yourself and your family from these deadly bees this summer. If you notice a hive, do not go near it. Call an experienced exterminator to remove it. When you use garden equipment that makes noise or could disturb a hive, keep your pets and children inside.