Massive bee attack kills dogs, injures woman

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:51 PM

Keona Gardner

PALM CITY, Fla. — Two dogs have died and their owner was injured during a walk when they were attacked by a swarm of suspected Africanized bees.

The woman and her two pugs were out for a walk Monday when they were attacked by bees, officials said.

A lawn maintenance crew came to their rescue; however, one dog died at the scene.

A Martin County Sheriff’s Office animal control deputy took the second dog to a local veterinarian hospital, where it later died, Fire Rescue Bureau Chief Daniel Wouters said.

The woman was taken to Martin Medical Center.

It appears strong winds knocked down the hive, which was located in a 10-foot-tall hollowed palm tree on a vacant lot, said Gene Lemire, Martin County Mosquito Control manager.

"The bees were already mad, and they were looking for something that was a threat," Lemire said. "The woman and the two dogs just happened to be walking by."

Lemire said he suspects the bees are Africanized honey bees, which are more aggressive than European honeybees.

"They chased the woman and her dogs about 150 feet," Lemire said.

More bees were found about 4 feet down the tree.

"This was one of the most aggressive bee hives we’ve found," Lemire said.

Africanized bees are sometimes called "killer bees" because of their aggressive defense of their hives. Lemire could not provide an estimated guess to the number of bees, only saying it was thousands.

"If it had been European honey bees, when we destroyed the hive there would have been honey everywhere," Lemire said. "There was no honey in the hive or the tree."

The stings of Africanized bees are not more painful than European honeybees, which are used for producing honey and pollinating plants. However, Africanized bees will attack in greater numbers.

A mixture of soap and water was used to suffocate the bees before crews destroyed the hive, Lemire said.

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