'Killer bees' send 91-year-old woman to hospital

By Matt Galka, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Jun 06 2014 04:05:59 PM EDT
Killer bee hive

This Africanized bee colony invaded the territory of some Mandarin homes a few years ago.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Hundreds of Africanized bees swarmed an elderly South Florida woman and stung her repeatedly, sending her to the hospital.

Beekeepers say that no matter where you live, you need to be aware of a potential bee problem.

It’s easier said than done, but if you do find yourself being attacked, don’t panic. Try to get away from a swarm and cover yourself with a sheet or blanket.

Africanized bees, the insects known as “killer bees,” sent a 91-year-old South Florida woman to the hospital after stinging her hundreds of times.

Master beekeeper Roger Twitchell has been harvesting honeybees for nine years. He said Africanized bees could be a problem anywhere, especially south of Interstate 4.

“They’ll settle in much smaller spaces, water meters, basic lamp posts, things like this, so they’re in very close proximity to humans, and that is the problem,” Twitchell said.

The unsettling buzzing sound of honeybees is fine when they're boxed up. But an unsuspecting person can set off a swarm of Africanized bees at a moment's notice.

“If you were to walk within 40 yards of an Africanized hive, and you were to agitate them, you would have hundreds of them come out to warn you,” Twitchell said.

The Department of Agriculture said people shouldn’t try to handle a bee problem by themselves.

“If you see a high number of bees, get away from them as fast as possible, call a licensed pesticide or bee person,” said Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture.

If you are stung, don’t pinch the stinger, “that will release more venom.”

Instead, try to scrape a stinger out with a credit card.

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