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One Died, Two Killed – Stung ‘Hundred Of Times’ In A Bee Swarm

Bee swarms are a relatively common and sometimes dangerous occurrence in Arizona

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

U.S. Arizona: A man was killed and two people required hospital treatment after being stung “hundreds of times” by swarming bees on Thursday near Tucson, Arizona, officials said.

In a statement posted to social media, the Northwest fire district said it was called about a bee swarm around noon on Thursday in which “at least six individuals were stung multiple times”.

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The fire district said one man died. He was not immediately identified.

The fire district also said: “Three of our firefighters were stung multiple times while dispatched on the call. One firefighter, believed to have been stung approximately 60 times, was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. He has since been released. The other two firefighters did not need medical treatment.”

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The fire department said in a statement that the bees were from an open hive estimated to be around 100 pounds in a tree nearby. 

Culture of the bees – Arizona

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in a 2019 report that an average of 62 people died each year from the bee, wasp and hornet sting from 2000 through 2017. During that period, the most deaths occurred in 2017 when 89 people died.

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In 2015, for example, one man survived 500 to 1,000 stings after disturbing a hive. 

According to the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, most Arizona swarms involve Africanised honey bees, a cross between African and European bees popularly but erroneously known as killer bees, leaving one hive to start another.

“Swarms are generally docile regardless of type,” the center says, as “the swarm has no resources (brood, queen, food) to protect. They can actually be quite vulnerable during the swarming process, as they are without the protection of a home.

“Africanized honey bees do not fly out in angry swarms to randomly attack unlucky victims. Stinging incidents by Africanised honeybees occur when the actual nest site, not the swarm, is disturbed.”

Africanised honey bees “can become highly defensive to protect their hive, interestingly their defensive behaviour can vary from mild to severe.

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After the fatal incident near Tucson, the Marana police department said: “Bee handlers have killed most of the bees and have removed the hive. Although the area is much safer, there are still some lingering bees.”

Residents were advised to avoid the area.

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