Man Dies from Africanized Honey Bee Attack

The following is from Nogales International  July 17, 2012:

City Warns Residents of Bee Dangers

In the wake of an attack that left a local man dead and sent several others to the hospital, the City of Nogales is urging residents to be prepared and to respond appropriately to swarms of bees.

Last Wednesday, 75-year-old Ramon Figueroa Rascon was attacked by a swarm of bees as he worked to remove debris from an industrial area on the north side of Nogales. He was later pronounced dead at Holy Cross Hospital.

It was the first incident of its kind in Nogales, the city said.

“Attacks from aggressive Africanized honey bees may result in serious injury or even death,” the city said in a news release issued Friday. “Residents are encouraged to know how to protect themselves and their families from serious injury with the following recommendations:”

• Check your property regularly for bee colonies. Honey bees nest in a wide variety of places, especially Africanized honey bees. Look for bees in work areas before using power equipment. Check animal burrows, water meter boxes, overturned flower pots, trees and shrubs.

• Keep pets and children indoors when using weed eaters, hedge clippers, lawn mowers, chain saws, etc. Attacks frequently occur when a person is mowing the lawn or pruning shrubs and inadvertently strikes a nest.

• If you encounter a swarm, run as quickly as you can in a straight line away from the bees. Do not flail or swing your arms at them, as this may further annoy them. Get to the closest house or car as quickly as possible. Don't worry if a few bees become trapped in your home. If several bees follow you into your car, drive about a quarter of a mile and let the bees out.

• Because bees target the head and eyes, cover your head as much as you can without slowing your escape.

• Don’t jump in the water. Africanized honey bees can wait longer than you can.

• Avoid excessive motion when near a colony. Bees are much more likely to respond to an object in motion than a stationary one.

• Don’t pen, tie or tether animals near beehives or nests and never attempt to remove a nest yourself. Find a reputable pest control company that specializes in bee removal. Residents are encouraged to call the Nogales Fire Department at (520) 287-6548 for a list of licensed, local pest control operators that can remove the beehive or nest.

• Call the fire department only when emergency medical services are needed. If someone has been stung by many bees at once or has an allergic reaction to a bee sting, call 911. Call if someone has become trapped in a building or car with many bees. NFD’s trucks are equipped with foam that can be sprayed on the bees to drown them.

About the bees

According to a city news release, colonies of Africanized honey bees (also called “Africanized bees” or “killer bees”) are being found more frequently in North America of late. Imported to South America in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better suited to tropical regions, some of the bees escaped quarantine and began breeding with local Brazilian honey bees and have since moved north, the city said.

Los Angeles County Vector Control guidelines on what to do if you discover a swarm or colony of bees:

[Note from LACBA: If you discover a honey bee nest or swarm on your property call a beekeeper. Check out our LACBA Swarm Removal page for a list of beekkeepers experienced in bee removal.]