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The Latest news from Florida:



SUMMERFIELD, FL --- African bees - also known as killer bees - are swarming around Eric and Deborah Uneberg's central Florida home.

Approximately 10,000 bees swarmed from a beehive in a live oak tree in the couple's backyard on Monday when a pizza delivery man approached their home. No one was injured. And, for now, the bees have settled in a nearby live oak tree in Summerfield, near Ocala.

The couple first noticed the beehive on Jan. 17.

Entomologist Richard Martyniak estimates the original hive may have contained up to 60,000 bees.

Martyniak, who works for All Florida Bee Removal, says he has been called to get rid of several hives of African Bees in the area. (The Associated Press, 3/1/11.)




OCALA, FL --- Whether all the buzz about a suspected Africanized killer bee hive in Summerfield is warranted is something only the bees themselves may know.

That's because even though more than half of the unwanted bee hives removed from residential and commercial properties are Africanized - or full of aggressively defensive bees - the hives are indistinguishable from those of their more passive European honey bee cousins.

That's the situation unfolding at the Summerfield home of Eric Uneberg and his wife, Deborah Burgess-Uneberg.

"We don't know [what kind of bees are at the house], but we know we're running into more and more mean bees" in general, said entomologist Richard Martyniak, with All Florida Bee Removal.

His company is removing the hive and its 20,000 occupants for the couple. The Star-Banner published pictures of the removal on Tuesday, and other media outlets - including the Drudge Report - also reported the story.

Martyniak said at least 50 percent of the hives All Florida Bee Removal encounters shows the more aggressive traits of the African bees. That leads him to conclude there's a good chance that the Unebergs' hive is made up of Africanized bees and not European honey bees, which are most associated with honey production in the United States.

But he doesn't know for sure. So far, the bees have not been aggressive, nor have they tried to sting him behind his protective canvas suit, he admits.

The Unebergs first spotted the dangling hive 40 feet up in an oak tree in January. Swarms of at least 30 bees have swooped onto area foliage and flowers, but the Unebergs haven't been stung yet, either.

The aggressive African bee and its migration from Brazil through South America into the United States as a dangerous intruder has been a frightening tale.

By 2002, the bees, which were accidentally released in the 1950s from Brazil, had made their way into Texas and Florida. By 2010, they were in Georgia. They attack and kill one or two people annually in the United States.

They spread into the southern United States by mating with the European honey bee queens or drones and effectively compete against the more docile European bees for resources.

The hybrid Africanized bees are indistinguishable from European bees in appearance, said Jeanette Klopchin, an official with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The two bees only sting once, losing their stinger during the encounter, and each carries the same amount of venom.

The difference lies in their behavior.

The "killer bees" typically send out 10 times the number of attack bees than European honey bees when the hive feels threatened, Klochin said. The more aggressive bees will likely defend a far greater area around their hive.

Bee keepers can try to keep Africanized bee infestations at bay by keeping their bees from swarming. Swarming occurs when the bee hive grows substantially large enough to start a second colony and a portion of the original bee population leaves to form their own hive.

That's when rogue Africanized bees mingle with the new swarm and mate.

Africanized bee migration is limited only by climate, Klochin said, so they could travel as far north as the Carolinas if there's enough warm weather to support the hive.

Martyniak said he's seen their migration and a change in bee behavior during the past few years.

He said in some cases, hives are so aggressive in defending themselves that he's had to coordinate with local law enforcement to shut off traffic and pedestrians onto an entire block while he removes a hive. Martyniak said that level of necessary precaution wasn't needed just 10 or 15 years ago.

Rather than trying to identify any given hive as Africanized, Martyniak said a hive is instead characterized by its level of aggressiveness.

"They're totally unpredictable until you start working with them," he said.

A situation where only half a dozen European bees might attack him, "thousands [of Africanized bees] would come after me," he said.

In one case, his protective suit was stung so many times, "I had enough venom to kill me," he said.

But as for the Unebergs' hive, Martyniak said only, "I never say this is an African colony. But we are encountering more and more mean bees."

When approaching the Uneberg hive, however, Martyniak said he wasn't attacked, even when slicing off a portion of the hive. (Fred Hiers, Ocala Star-Banner, 3/1/11.)



Experts say African bee colonies are increasing and migrating northward, soon covering the entire state.

ORLANDO, FL --- Eric Uneberg was walking his dog Sasha beneath the live oaks in the backyard of his Marion County home when he got a strange feeling that he was being watched. He looked around as the hairs on his neck began to stand on end. Nothing to the right or left.

But as Uneberg turned to go inside the house, he decided to look up.

"I thought it was just some strange animal hanging from the tree because it was big and brown and in the corners all you could see were these four golden-like feet," Uneberg said.

They were bees. Tens of thousands of them. However, these were not typical pollinators.

The unusual hive is a trademark of the African killer bee, a honey bee subspecies that has swarmed the region as it makes its way north from South Florida. The infamous insect is notorious for viciously attacking both animals and people-anyone that threatens the colony.

The bees have been reported in more than 26 Florida counties from the south and along both coasts, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. But they won't stop there - experts say the honey bees will likely encompass the entire state in just a few years.

Marion County is known as the front line of the African bee migration because cold winter temperatures kill the insects and keep them at bay, said entomologist Richard Martyniak, who works for various bee-removal services throughout the state.

Martyniak said there have been confirmed reports of African bees in all Central Florida Counties - Orange, Osceola, Lake, Volusia, Seminole, Polk and Brevard.

The bees are reproducing rapidly, adapting and migrating faster than expected. Jason Deeringer of All Florida Bee Removal said 80 to 90 percent of colony removals are inside homes and buildings

Martyniak said he's been flooded with work removing feral hives from urban apartment complexes in Kissimmee and Orlando to killing dangerous colonies near golf courses as far north as The Villages.

African bee or typical honeybee?

African or killer bees are practically indistinguishable from the typical honeybee - except in behavior.

Commercial honey bees are more docile and tamed easily by beekeepers. Unlike the African bees that prefer tight compact places, these bees construct their hives high above the ground in trees and open spaces.

Martyniak said queens are choosing to mate with male African bees - who fly faster and are resistant to pests killing other bees -creating hybrid populations of highly-defensive bees.

Entomologists noticed the bee behavior change in Central Florida in the last two years.

Killers bees received their name because of the relentless way they attack invaders. If a threat approaches, thousands of bees will descend and chase them for more than a mile. They aim their stingers at the neck, head, and face to stop you from breathing, Deeringer said.

"You can jump in a pool and they won't stop chasing. You are marked," Deeringer said. "If your head comes out of the water one second, they will attack with unrivaled tenacity. The aggravation they feel is 10 times that of a normal honey bee."

When a killer bee hive is disturbed, anything within 600 yards - pets, horses, children - is vulnerable, Deeringer said.

"We've seen spectacular stinging incidents," Martyniak said. "Just last November in Georgia, an African bee colony killed a fellow who was knocking down a house on his homestead."

It can take about 1,000 stings to kill a full-grown man - or 10 stings per pound of body weight - but for people who are allergic, it only takes one.

If residents come across a bee colony, experts advise them to act quickly and call a professional bee removal service. (Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel, 3/1/11.)




HOLLYWOOD, FL --- A South Florida landscaper is recovering at the hospital after he was attacked by a swarm of bees.

Andres Calvo is telling his story from his hospital bed after he was stung 150 times by bees, Monday afternoon. "I was on the lawnmower cutting the grass in the backyard. All of a sudden, I felt something over me, I could hear the sound of the bees. They came out of nowhere, and all of a sudden, they were all over me. I started screaming for help and a couple of people tried to help me," said Calvo.

Calvo was attacked while cutting a friend's grass along the 1900 of Scott Street in Hollywood. He said he tried to run, took off his shirt and tried to swat away the bees, but the attack continued. "They were all over my head, in my ears, in my nose. It was horrible. I was dizzy. I was throwing up, disoriented. It felt like my entire body was on fire."

Neighbor Theresa Perchiano witnessed the attack and ran for help. "The guy was cutting the grass and I seen him screaming. I thought he was fighting, and then I came outside to ask him if he was all right, and he turned around, and his whole back was covered in bees," said Perchiano.

The bees came from outside of Ileana Ramon's home. Ramon said she keeps the bees in several hives to collect their honey. "I've had the bees more than 10 years here, and this has never happened. We cut the grass, all my neighbors, and it never happened," said Ramon.

Tom Anggelucci called 911. "Our friend that's over here, he grabbed our hose and tried to squirt the guy down to help him, but the guy took off running, and we called paramedics," said Anggelucci.

Calvo is recovering at the hospital and taking pain medication. "I don't even want to think about that moment. I never want to go through something like this ever again. It was terrible. If I had been allergic, I would have died for sure," he said. (WSVN-TV 7 News, 2/1/11.)


Hunting party ATV drove over a nest in southwest Palm Beach County

A hunting party of four and their dog were stung by a swarm of bees after driving over a nest in an all-terrain vehicle in southwest Palm Beach County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

At least one woman was in the hunting party in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area on Friday, FWC spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro said.

The four people got stung about 15 times each but their dog got the worst of it, according to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Captain Don DeLucia.

"Really the victim is the dog [because the bees] stung the dog multiple times but the dog appears to be recovering," Ferraro said. "They are not sending it to a veterinarian and they refused medical treatment themselves."

It's 'general gun season' with hogs, armadillos, raccoons, migratory birds, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits and quail among the game being hunted, Ferraro said.

Authorities could not identify the type of bees that swarmed the hunters. (Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel, 11/19/10.)



Firefighters said they're continuing to monitor a brush fire that was reported near Mustard Seed Kidz Preschool.

Firefighters have cleared the scene of a brush fire that was reported near a West Melbourne preschool on Wednesday.



The fire was reported about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, in a wooded area between the Mustard Seed Kidz Preschool and Quail Run Mobile Home Estates on Eber Road, Brevard County Fire Rescue Lt. Jeff Taylor said.

About 10:20 p.m., Taylor said crews had cleared the scene. In a statement, he said firefighters would "monitor the area periodically" Wednesday night, and return in the morning "to extinguish the fire completely."

"All hot spots are located within the burn area and should pose no threat to surrounding areas," Taylor said. "Smoky conditions are expected in the area overnight and drivers are urged to use caution if visibility is affected."

Crews initially responding at the scene said the fire was about 50-by-50 yards, and was slow-moving. However, firefighters were hindered in their efforts to combat the blaze by a swarm of bees.

Taylor said two firefighters were transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center with multiple stings. He said one remained hospitalized in stable condition late Wednesday, while the other was able to return to the scene.

Crews called the Division of Forestry to the scene, and their combined effort was enough to contain the fire, Taylor said.

Taylor said the Florida Highway Patrol was advised that traffic on nearby Interstate 95 may be impacted by smoky conditions. However, the roadway remained open late Wednesday. (Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sun Sentinel, 11/10/10.)




DANIA BEACH, FL --- Four people, including two young children, were treated for bee stings today in Dania Beach.

The group of two adults and two young children were visiting Greenbelt Park at Northwest 10th Griffin Road in Dania Beach when they were stung.

The children were taken to Broward General Medical Center as a precaution.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has asked county maintenance workers to evaluate the bee situation at the park. (Lisa Bolivar, CBS-TV 4 News, 8/30/10.)




FORT MYERS, FL --- Authorities responded to a woman being stung by a swarm of bees in Fort Myers this morning.

The incident happened at 10:25 a.m. on the 4900 block of Mars St., Lee County EMS spokeswoman Diane Holm said. Authorities didn't release the woman's name or condition.

"At this point all I can say is it was one patient and I don't know if the patient was transported or not to a hospital," Holm said.

Holm said Lee County EMS, a bee keeper and the Lee County Sheriff's Office assisted on the call. A sheriff's spokeswoman said today that she couldn't find information about her department assisting on the call. (Chris Umpierre, The News-Press, 8/23/10.)






BREVARD COUNTY, FL -- A man was attacked by a swarm of bees Sunday when he tried to remove a massive hive from a tree in Brevard County on Martin Road in Rockledge. An eyewitness captured the attack on camera.

Eyewitnesses said the man was an amateur and did not wear the correct protective clothing before trying to remove the hive.

"He was not well prepared. [He] had a towel over his face and scuba gear and mask. The bees are all over his face and he starts panicking and runs down Martin Road here," eyewitness Chris Maffucci said.

The man was taken to Wuesthoff Hospital, where he was treated for stings to the face.

A professional was called to the scene to remove the beehive. (WFTV-News 9, 8/23/10.)





SAFETY HARBOR, FL - The Africanized honeybees swarmed the tree trimmer's head and within seconds, his whole body.

"They were inside my ears, my mouth, my nose - everywhere," Ralph St. Peter said Monday, two days after the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said he was stung as many as 150 times. "They had to cut my clothes off. My whole body was encased in bees."

He said the stings of the bees felt "like a 1,000 hypodermic needles" or "a tetanus shot."

Co-worker Michael Foster, who swatted off the bees with his bare hands and also was stung, said St. Peter was swollen to the point that he looked like another "one-and-a-half persons, like he got hit by a truck."

Both men were taken to Mease Countryside Hospital. Doctors treated St. Peter on Saturday and released him Sunday.

Monday morning, sting marks still dotting his body, St. Peter returned to Kelly Leavy's Safety Harbor home to finish the work he started.

By afternoon, St. Peter wished he had just listened to his wife and stayed home.

. . . . . . . .

St. Peter, 44, has been around trees, bees and snakes for 30 years. His dad worked in the industry in his native Connecticut, and St. Peter usually accompanied him on jobs. He said he became a certified arborist and forester in 1986.

St. Peter has his own company, but recently took on additional work with Johnson Lawn and Landscape Service in Tarpon Springs to supplement his income. One of his first assignments: cutting down Kelly Leavy's dead oaks.

He said Leavy told him there was a nest of honeybees. That didn't faze him. He thought there were only 200 or so domestic bees, not 50,000 Africanized ones.

"If you work in trees," he said, "you're going to be stung."

St. Peter, who moved to Florida in 2003 and lives in Weeki Wachee, estimates bees sting him at least 10 times a week. He said he's been bitten by rattlesnakes.

Doctors "said my immune system was really good for bites and stings and stuff like that," he said.

St. Peter said he's heard of the Africanized honeybee, but all of his encounters have been with domestic honeybees.

Florida's Africanized honeybee population is increasing, according to University of Florida researchers. They are referred to - often and inaccurately - as aggressive killer bees. The bees do not plot attacks on humans, James D. Ellis Jr. and Faith M. Oi said in a 2006 study. They react to human invasion of their environment and defend themselves when necessary. Attacks occur when people get too close to a nesting colony of bees.

That's exactly what happened about 1:45 p.m. Saturday. St. Peter leaned a ladder against a tree and climbed to the top. He attached a safety line to his body so he could rappel down the tree in the event a swarm of bees emerged. His line got stuck in the limbs.

"All of a sudden 50,000 bees came out of the hollow log," he said. "And it's like they came right towards me. It was amazing. The cloud of bees was so thick you couldn't see through it."

He screamed to his colleagues for help. "But every time I opened my mouth, my mouth would get full of bees and I'd have to spit more bees out," he said. "And finally they understood (to) get me a knife so they got me a knife and I cut myself down and we all ran over to the picnic tables over there."

Doctors gave him pain medicine, and the swelling subsided. His wife begged him to stay home Monday. He said he was fine, that he could work through the tingling feeling in his skin.

St. Peter said he couldn't afford to take a day off. He's the sole breadwinner and the father of four. He only earns $15 an hour.

He didn't think anything else would happen.

. . . . . . . . . .

Around midday, St. Peter revved up the orange chainsaw.

The first limb fell without incident. Then he moved to the next.

He tied one end of a rope around the limb and the other on the front of the company truck. He told Foster, the co-worker, to put the vehicle in reverse.

The limb fell to the ground, but not before taking out a power pole and live electrical wires.

"This is like the job from hell," Foster said, just before Safety Harbor Fire and Progress Energy arrived. "I don't want to see this place again."

There were no injuries, Safety Harbor Fire Chief Joe Accetta said. Progress Energy spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said the company couldn't find any evidence of an outage in its system.

St. Peter put down his chainsaw.

"This has never happened to me before - ever," he said.

"What a nightmare. I just wanted to finish the job."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. (Rodney Thrash, St Petersburg Times, 8/10/10.)






SAFETY HARBOR, FL-- For the first time, a tree trimmer stung about 500 times by Africanized killer bees on Saturday described the attack.

He was working on a tree in the front yard of a home in Safety Harbor when he cut through a massive hive.

"This giant swarm just came directly at me. It's like they knew who did it," Ralph St. Peter explained.

St. Peter's hands and face are still swollen. From head to toe, he's covered in bee stings.

"Fireants. It would be the same as fireants," St. Peter said, also comparing his attack to someone sticking a needle in him repeatedly all over his body.

Hours after being released from the hospital, St. Peter's wife, Jenna, still had to pull out stingers.

"Kind of reminds me of a porcupine. You're just pulling pins out of a pin cushion," she said.

St. Peter, a veteran tree trimmer of 30 years, says he knew there were honey bees in the tree, but not the Africanized type, let alone the estimated 50,000 that
swarmed him.

"Fear, nothing but fear," he said when asked what he was thinking during the attack, "because I knew what they were. They were definitely killer bees. Regular bees don't do that."

St. Peter says he should have called an exterminator to remove the bees before starting the work.

He credits his co-workers, who helped him get down from the tree, with saving his life.

"I would have died. They weren't stopping," St. Peter said.

On his first day back at work on Monday, he says he's going right for the same tree. The bees are obviously gone, so I'll finish the job tomorrow," he said. (Adam Freeman, WTSP- News 10, 8/8/10.)







SAFETY HARBOR, FL-- He had bees on his arms, legs, face, nose and ears. And when Ralph St. Peter opened his mouth to scream, the bees piled in his mouth. Bees went up his shorts and down his shirt.

"My body was totally encased in bees," St. Peter said, recounting co-workers' description. "You couldn't actually see my body. You just saw the frame of my body."

St. Peter was discharged from Mease Countryside Hospital on Sunday, a day after being stung by more than 500 Africanized honeybees. He still has some pain and discomfort, but he'll return Monday to cut down the oak where the bees had a hive.

"I'd like to take a couple of days off, but I can't afford it," St. Peter said. "If times were a little better, I'd take a day or two off. But it's not."

The Weeki Wachee man was working with a crew Saturday afternoon cutting down three trees at a Safety Harbor home.

A crew leader with Johnson Lawn and Landscape of Tarpon Springs, St. Peter was cutting down a limb when a swarm of Africanized honeybees attacked him.

He tried to repel down the tree, but the rope got stuck on some limbs. The bees came from a hollow log that was 8 feet long and 24 inches wide.

Two of St. Peter's co-workers ran off, but Mike Foster stayed to help. Foster got a knife to St. Peter, who was able to cut the rope and free himself after being stuck in the tree for two to three minutes. Foster was stung 75 times on his hands while trying to get the bees off him, St. Peter said.

"(Today) it feels like I had a run in with a whole bunch of jellyfish," St. Peter said Sunday. "That's how it feels today.

Yesterday, it was downright terrible."

St. Peter, 44, has been in the tree business for 30 years and has been a certified arborist for 20 years. He has been stung in the past but has never faced anything like he experienced Saturday.

A domestic honeybee will send two or three bees to attack a person, and the rest of the bees will take off with the queen, St. Peter said. Saturday, the Africanized honeybees came as a swarm.

St. Peter said a professional exterminator was hired to get rid of the bees, so he feels confident returning to finish the job.

In the future, St. Peter said he'll be cautious when working a hollow tree.

"It definitely won't happen again," St. Peter said. (Jose Patino Girona, The Tampa Tribune, 8/8/10.)







TAMPA, FL --- The two young paramedics called out to a man covered in bees Friday morning, asking him to come closer to their ambulance and hoping all the bees wouldn't.

"They were swarming," said Sophia Cardenas, a firefighter with Tampa Fire Rescue. "He had a look of desperation on his face."

The 47-year-old man had been cutting grass at 1224 E Park Circle just before 11 a.m. when the bees attacked and stung him more than 100 times, according to Fire Rescue. Authorities did not release his name.

Cardenas, 22, said the man was shirtless and wearing jeans, so the bees blanketed his chest, arms, neck, face and even wriggled their way into his chin-length hair.

She and her fellow paramedic, Justin Thompson, were the first to arrive to the call of a bee attack, and threw on their fire coats and hoods before they approached. Thompson told the man to walk away from the bees and get on the other side of the ambulance.

"It took about three minutes to beat the bees off him with the towels," Cardenas said.

An engine arrived shortly after and crews rushed the man to St. Joseph's Hospital, where workers counted more than 100 bee stings on his body.

It was an interesting ride, since neither paramedic was particularly fond of bees.

"I was stung twice - in the face," Cardenas said.

Thompson, 27, said some of the bees hiding in the man's hair came out en route to the hospital, so they were killing bees along the way.

"We put him in a D-Con shower and then the hospital began his treatment," Thompson said.

The man didn't appear to have an allergy and was in stable condition, Cardenas said.

Both Fire Rescue members said this was their first experience with bees on this scale.

"It looked like he was covered in whiteheads," Cardenas said.

Hours later back at 1224 E Park Circle, the front yard stood unmowed, covered in brown leaves as a man sprayed insecticide into bushes and trees lining the front of the single story house that sits more than 100 feet off the street.

A piece of the roof had been ripped off the front of the home to reveal what was once the nest of the dangerous swarm.

"I don't like (bees)," Cardenas said. "When you have a patient that needs help, that's not an issue." (Robbyn Mitchell, St Petersburg Times, 5/29/10.)



TAMPA, FL --- They were trained to wait for the fire hoses before confronting a swarm.

But when two Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics arrived at the home and saw a man writhing on the ground covered in bees, they knew they couldn't delay.

"The guy could see us," said Justin Thompson, one of the paramedics. "I couldn't imagine just sitting there waiting for backup."

Neither relished the idea of wading in among the swarm, but they swallowed their fear.

"He had a look of desperation and he needed our help," said Sophia Cardenas, the other firefighter.

The pair donned their heavy "bunker" coats, covered their heads with fireproof hoods and went to get the 47-year-old. They battled for about three minutes, using towels and the hoods to beat off the bees before reaching the safety of their vehicle.

The man, who was cutting the lawn at 1224 E. Park Circle at about 11 a.m., was stung more than 100 times.

He was released after being treated at St. Joseph Hospital. He hasn't been identified.

Cardenas was stung twice in the face. Thompson avoided the stingers.

"I don't like bees but when you have a patient that needs your help, it's not an issue," Cardenas said.

She said the bee was identified as an Africanized "killer" bee.

The hive was apparently built inside a rotten soffit in the front of the home. Hours later it was removed. The smell of insecticide permeated the yard. The driveway was littered with crushed honeycomb and dead bees.

Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said each class at the agency's academy is shown a film about Africanized bees and told to use hoses to douse the bees away.

However, Wade had no problems with Thompson and Cardenas ignoring the advice."They didn't have that option," he said. "They used what was available and brought the man to safety." (By Tom Brennan, The Tampa Tribune, 5/28/10.)



FORT MYERS, FL --- Bees were found between the floors, in the windowsills and even pouring out of the walls of a Fort Myers home. And now, two people are in the hospital after being stung hundreds of times.

It happened in a house on a dead-end street in the Tice area of Fort Myers.

"We get stung so much, our animals get stung and our friends can't come outside. It's dangerous," said renter BethAnne Sedore.

Since the renters moved in four months ago, they've been living with dangerous neighbors - thousands of them.

"Right here on my hands and foot lying in bed, I was stung," said renter Wanda Curtis.

Even the babies living there have sting scars. The property manager tried to fix the problem a while back with a foam, but only moved the danger closer.

"It's in our ceilings, our floors, in the walls - dangerous," said Sedore.

Beekeeper Keith Councell got the call Thursday night after a bee attack left one woman stung more than 140 times.

"It's frustrating because this is a simple situation to have remedied before all this happened," he said.

He said his calls to the property manager, AAA Renters, were ignored. He even said he is willing to fix this problem for free. Though it's a big job, he says it's needed.

"We don't need someone getting killed by bees and that's what could have happened here," said Councell. (Katie LaGrone, WZVN-TV 7 News, 5/7/10.)



THE ACREAGE, FL --- A 76-year-old Acreage man was hospitalized after being stung by a swarm of bees outside his home this morning.

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Chief Steve Delai said that the man had sustained numerous bee stings upon the of arrival of rescue crews.

The injured man is Royston Osbourne of the 12300 block of 70th Place North, his wife Yvonne said.

Osbourne was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but Yvonne said tonight that his condition has improved to stable.

"The doctors said if it had been a few minutes more (it could have been more serious)," she said, speaking by phone from Palms West Hospital, where her husband was transported this morning.

Yvonne said that Royston was outside their home about 10:30 a.m., when he was attacked by the bee swarm. She said she was able to drag him inside, but he lost consciousness before paramedics arrived. Paramedics were able to revive and stabilize him before transporting him to the emergency room, Yvonne said.

"He was in the yard," she said. "He was outside and I don't know what made me go out there....I heard the scream and when I saw what was happening, I ran down there."

Yvonne, 66, also suffered and was treated for some bee stings. But she said her injuries weren't as severe and she was able to drive herself to the hospital. (Julius Whigham II, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, 4/9/10.)




MIAMI GARDENS, FL --- A South Florida family was mourning the loss of their dog Friday, but experts say they could've died too if the bees would have attacked them.

Brenda Williams doesn't have children, just two dogs.

"I talk about my dog everyday, everyday, and now this," Williams told CBS4's Gio Benitez.

But Friday, one of them lay dead in her front yard. Africanized bees living deep inside a tree in her backyard attacked the dog just before noon.

"I had everything done to him, and now I have to see my dog get taken out by bees? It's unbelievable," said Williams. "The bees gone wild! They really went on attack. Me, my husband, the dogs, everybody," she said.

Her husband, George, was cutting the trees. The sound of the chainsaw apparently made the bees aggressive, and in just a few minutes, he was on the run.

"They bit me everywhere. I got bites all over the place, I had to strip naked, the bees were all over me," said George.

But the killer bees completely covered the dog's head, and killed it.

"I couldn't just run out there like I'm Superman, I might have been like my dog or in the hospital," said Williams.

And she worries others in the neighborhood could have been hurt if she hadn't called expert bee remover Adrian Valero, who says he only sees Africanized bees once every three or four months.

The bees are rare, but even so, Valero says 60,000 of them were living inside the Williams tree, and he couldn't kill all of them.

For Brenda Williams, those are just numbers. What she cares about is lying lifeless in her front yard.

"This is the worst day. I've had some bad days, but this day here takes the cake. It's the worst day of my life," she said.

So what if this happens to you? Experts say, don't swat at the bees, because if you do, that'll make them even angrier. Just go inside, and call Animal Control at 305-884-1101 or 954-359-1313. (Gio Benitez, WFOR-TV 4, 3/19/10.)



MIAMI-DADE, FL --- A man in Southwest Miami-Dade was found dead early Tuesday near a colony of tens of thousands of bees, though it's unclear if his death was caused by stings from the bees.

Miami-Dade homicide investigators were at the scene, but it will be up to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.

Police said they could not say whether the man died from a heart attack, a fall or from bee stings.

The man's name was not disclosed, but Capt. Jeffrey Fobb, who works with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Response Unit, said fire rescue workers found the victim dressed in a partial protective bee suit about 50 feet from a ``large colony of bees that contained in his estimation 50,000 to 60,000 bees.''

``We all had to don full protective bee suits to secure the body,'' Fobb said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials were called about 8 a.m. to the home in the 10800 block of Southwest 84th Street. The victim was found on top of the roof of a three-story apartment complex. The hive, which measured about three feet, was near the roof.

The victim wore protective gear that covered his head and upper body, but not the rest of his body, said Fobb, who said authorities had not determined why the victim was working with the bees.

Neighbors told authorities they had been having problems with a beehive for the past 18 months, Fobb said.

The victim's body will be taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy. (Tim Chapman And Jennifer Lebovich, The Miami Herald, 11/3/09.)


Beehive Led to Blaze Injuring Florida FFs


- The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
Posted: Fri, 10/30/2009 - 08:51

Acting on a tip, Kissimmee fire officials today determined that two residents trying to exterminate bees sparked a fire that left 30 people homeless and destroyed a building.

Two residents doused a beehive with flammable spray as it hung from a second-floor landing at Villa del Sol condominiums, firefighters said. They then lit a match and touched it to the hive, causing flames to erupt.

The residents sprayed the hive with a fire extinguisher, left and didn't realize that fire was still burning, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The flames broke out Sunday just before 9 p.m. at the complex at 2250 N. Hoagland Blvd. and gutted a three-story block of 22 apartments. It took more than 50 firefighters to extinguish the blaze. The 392-unit complex was built a decade ago as Tropical Isle apartments.

Two firefighters were injured when they were pinned to a third-floor landing and the roof collapsed. They were going door to door trying to evacuate the building.

No one has been charged, but the State Fire Marshal's office is continuing to investigate.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service



LAKELAND, FL --- For beekeepers, a bite now and then is to be expected, but invasive bees change the game.

You just might get stung working this job.

Beekeepers, otherwise known as people crazy enough to stand among as many as 100,000 bees at aplants, time, work to produce honey for our biscuits. But they also pollinate the county's orange groves and other flower-growing  spurring the agricultural industry in Polk County, despite the job's risks. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the county, making it the next installment in The Ledger's ongoing series, "Out of the Cubicle: Dangerous Jobs in Polk."

Burt Kelley, beekeeper and owner of Kelley's Apiaries in Lakeland, has hives across Polk County, he said, but doesn't think he has a dangerous job.

"If they invite me to leave, then I will leave," Kelley said about his bees. "You can only take so much until it's not fun anymore."

Kelley thinks the most dangerous aspect of his job is the risk of heat stroke. Yet, he says he has been stung at least 150 times at once.

"You got to work hard to get that," he said. "But after a certain number of stings, more doesn't make much of a difference."

Kelley said his body went into shock, but related the experience to being injured in war: "You get injured, but you just have to keep going."

Kelley says he is not worried as much by his bees as he is of the Africanized Honey Bee.

Jerry Hayes, chief of Apiary Inspection for the state of Florida's Plant Industry Division, says any colony can be taken over by the Africanized Honey Bee.

According to Hayes, the Africanized Honey Bee is an invasive bee that can take over any colony and adopt similar characteristics to the host colony. Bees communicate by chemical smell, he said, a trait the invading Africanized Honey Bee can adopt, meaning the host colony can no longer tell the difference between the home bee and the invading bee.

"Kill the existing queen and take over the reproductive operations" means a docile Honey Bee colony has been Africanized.

The Africanized Honey Bee's sting is no different from the normal Honey Bee; it is the sheer number of attackers that cause the Africanized Honey Bee to be more deadly.

Not only do their bees produce honey, but many beekeepers, including Kelley, are contracted to pollinate fruit-producing plants, such as orange trees. According to the Florida Division of Plant Industry, one-third of the food eaten in the state would not be available without the pollination provided by the Honey Bee. The division also says that for every dollar of honey produced in Florida, approximately $150 is generated in Honey Bee pollination services - an estimated $20 million yearly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates there are as many as 211,600 beekeepers in the United States, but only 1,600 of those are thought to be commercial beekeepers. The Florida Division of Plant Industry has 1,000 registered beekeepers managing approximately 200,000 bee colonies.

Kelley said he maintains liability insurance for his apiaries in case someone gets stung.

"Just a cost of doing business," he said.

"Beekeepers have their suits and their smokers," said Hayes. "It's kind of like anything else, it just becomes a non-event after a while." (Ryan Little, The Lakeland Ledger, 8/16/09.)



MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL --- A Miami-Dade family is looking for answers after bees invaded their neighbor's foreclosed home, WSVN-Ch. 7 reports.

The Baldomero family hasn't been able use their back yard for months since the home on Southwest 183rd Street and 119th Avenue became infested, the news station reports.

"It's just gotten progressively worse. We've seen bees come in mounds, just more and more, and we try to spray the fence," Silvia Baldomero said.

Miami-Dade code compliance officers were called, but they say little can be done because the home is owned by a bank. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/13/09.)



ST. PETERSBURG, FL --- Firefighters were inspecting a fallen oak tree that blocked 10th Avenue N and knocked down power lines Wednesday afternoon when they suddenly found themselves outnumbered:

The tree was home to 40,000 to 60,000 Africanized bees, a.k.a killer bees.

One or two firefighters were stung but the situation was soon under control and the bee hives removed, according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.

The whole thing started around 12:30 p.m., authorities said, when the 40-foot tree came crashing down on a residential street near 34th Street N. The tree trunk had been weakened by termites.

But the termites had roommates: two big hives full of bees. Firefighters found that out after they blocked off the road and took a closer look at the tree.

"All of a sudden there's a huge swarm of bees," said Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata. "Some of the bees stung some of the firefighters on scene."

One firefighter, after being stung in the forehead, took cover in a fire engine. The angry bee then started attacking the windows, Granata said.

"Once they sting somebody the venom creates a frenzy and they keep attacking," Granata said.

So firefighters backed off, created a perimeter around the tree and told everyone on the block to stay inside.

A beekeeper began removing the honeycomb from the hives and will disperse the bees.

Power in the neighborhood has also been restored, Granata said. But firefighters advise avoiding 10th Avenue N for a while longer.

Follow This Just In on Twitter.(Jamal Thalji, St Petersburg Times, 7/22/09.)



BONITA SPRINGS, FL --- Matthew Prueter didn't hear the buzz, but he felt the stings.

Prueter, a public works maintenance employee for the city of Bonita Springs, was cutting grass at the city's Island Park on July 9 when he was attacked by what are believed to be Africanized bees.

City officials think it was the first case of an Africanized bee attack in Bonita Springs. Experts say the bees, which arrived in Florida in 2000, aren't leaving and are more regularly attacking residents.

"I was circling the trees and I felt myself getting pecked on the head and face," Prueter said.

Prueter tried to get away, but couldn't. "I had no place to run. They just kept on me," he said. "I've been stung by honeybees before, but never like this. This was an all-out attack."

He ran and eventually leapt into the Rosemary Creek, dove and held his breath for as long as he could. When he resurfaced, the bees were still on him, attacking his face and head. He dove again and swam down the creek. When he surfaced, the bees were still there. He dove and swam some more. This time the bees were gone.

Prueter was stung five times in the face, three times on the head, pulled multiple stingers from his arms and one from his back.

"It was pretty wild - almost cartoon-like," he said. "When I got out of the water, I saw this ... family with a baby in a stroller getting close to where I was and told them to get away. I don't know what would have happened to them, if they got any closer."

That afternoon, the hive with about 5,000 bees was destroyed.

B. Keith Councell, president of Beekeepers of Southwest Florida, said there's really no way of telling if Prueter's attack was the work of Africanized bees. There are approximately 20,000 different varieties of bees; German black bees and even the most common European honeybee could react in a similar fashion, he said.

"The only way to tell if they were Africanized bees is to have them tested - and that could take weeks," he said. Councell, however, noted that two previous tests on bees found at Riverside Park came back positive for Africanized bees.

Chris Fenstermaker, 28, a beekeeper who manages two of his own hives as well as one at the Bonita Springs Nature Place, said the Africanized bee isn't concerned about making honey. "They're all about survival, and when they attack, it's more about defending their territory than anything else."

The big difference is that the Africanized bee is much more persistent, Fenstermaker said.

"If a European bee is provoked, it may follow you for about the length of a football field," he said. "The Africanized bee may follow you for three football fields. They just want to make sure you're no longer a threat to them."

Councell said people need to respect bees' space.

"I'm seeing a lot more attacks, but that's mostly because people are doing stupid things to hives like smacking them with two-by-fours," he said.

Also known as killer bees, the Africanized bee has been linked to one death in Florida. Robert Davis became the first Florida death attributed to the bee after being stung more than 100 times while working in Okeechobee County in April 2008. Last fall, Riviera Beach resident Nancy Hill, 70, was rushed to the hospital after being stung more than 70 times. Her dogs were killed in the attacks.

Growing concern led Bonita Springs Fire Rescue to buy 15 bee suits at $63 each.

"It was becoming an issue throughout the state," said Debbi Redfield, spokeswoman with the department.

Cape Coral has also had some nasty encounters. "We get a ton of complaints," said Connie Barron, Cape Coral spokeswoman. "We've been running into them in and around vacant homes, in water meter boxes and irrigation boxes. A lot of them are honey bees, but there's been a few of the Africanized bees."

Beekeepers are also fighting back.

Fenstermaker on Wednesday introduced a new European queen bee to Bonita's Nature Place center's hive. "The best way to keep the population of the Africanized bee at bay is by increasing the population of European bees."

Fenstermaker believes that eventual cross-breeding will result in a more docile Africanized bee.

"Africanized bee colonies are very small and the idea is that with more (European bees) we can starve them off," Councell said.(By Mark S/ Krzos, The News-Press, 7/20/09.)


Prisoners and guards attacked by bees

Miami, Fl - A swarm of bees attacked at least six guards and inmates at a women’s correctional facility in Pembroke Pines after an inmate stepped on a nest of bees.

Rescue workers arrived at the Broward Correctional Institution, about 7 p.m and took two guards and two inmates to nearby hospitals, said Mike Jachles, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman. Others were stung, but did not require hospitalization.

”These guards were trying to rescue the victim with good intentions, but they became victims as well,” Jachles said.

The victims suffered allergic reactions to the beestings on their heads and hands. The rescue workers helped keep their airways open by using intravenous medicine and oxygen masks, Jachles said.

The two male guards were taken to Cleveland Clinic in Weston. Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue took the inmates to Memorial Hospital Miramar.

Although rescue workers are equipped with emergency bee gear such as nets and foam, they did not use it. The victims had been moved away from the bees by the time they arrived, Jachles said.

Assistant warden Abel Price said nothing like this had happened before, but ”everything is fine and everybody’s OK,” he said. ”It’s just like if you have bees near your house — you see them and you run and it’s over with,” Price said.

Jachles said he did not know what type of bees attacked, but that they did ”appear to be very aggressive.” He said they might have been Africanized honeybees.

Such bees has been spreading rapidly in Florida, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture.

Jachles said the prison would need to contact an exterminator to remove the bees. Fire Rescue removes nests only if ”they are a threat to life safety,” he said. - Miami Herald July 13, 2009





ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The hive grew a foot, then another, and another. For years.

The Africanized bees lived in front of Robert Porter's tiny one-bedroom house. Forty thousand of them, in an 8-foot-tall hive that stretched 30 inches wide. Sixty pounds of honeycomb.

He knew they were there. But rather than pay a beekeeper to get them out, he ignored them.

The bees and Porter, they had an understanding.

"I was living with them," said Porter, 66. "They don't bother you if you don't bother them."

Tuesday, they were bothered.

An empty bookcase and boxes, too close to a gas water heater on Porter's back porch, caught fire about 9 a.m., said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata. Flames erupted, destroying the porch and spreading throughout the home at 1661 29th Ave. N.

The fire burned a power line, which fell and electrified a chain-link fence in the back yard.

In the commotion, the Africanized bees burst from the hive. But they didn't leave. In self-preservation, bees attempt to gather honey rather than scatter when something threatens them, said beekeeper Rodney Tyoe, a retired firefighter summoned to help.

When rescue workers arrived, Capt. Bernie Williams saw the bees and told firefighters with bee allergies to get back. That's when he felt the prick on his right shin.

"I looked down and I saw the bee sting me," he said. "I knocked him off my leg."

After firefighters controlled the fire, Tyoe sprayed pesticide and removed the burned beehive and dumped it in a box. The rest of the bees will gradually die from the pesticide, he said.

A bee stung an ABC Action News camera operator, said Granata. Tyoe also had several pricks on his arms.

Africanized bees, also called "killer bees," are common. When they sting, their bee friends flock to the scent and swarm, said Tyoe, 71, who has been "playing" with bees since he was 19.

But he hasn't had a call like this in years.

"Oh, now, I've seen bigger than that, but it was up there," he said. "It's pretty good when you get one that's 8 feet long."

Porter is an unemployed former soldier, salesman and construction worker living on Social Security. Neighbors said he loves to greet newcomers and leave Christmas gifts on porches.

"This is what happens to the nicest people in the neighborhood," said his friend James Mock.

Tuesday morning, Porter ate a bowl of Smart Start cereal, peaches and strawberries and walked to get a newspaper. Back home, his cat Black Beauty Marie (named after Marie Osmond) mewed incessantly. She had just lost two babies from her litter. Porter figured she was upset.

"Stop it," he told her. "You'll get over it. I will bury your poor babies."

He took a nap and woke about 9 a.m. to flames. Officials estimate about $30,000 in damage was done to the home, worth $79,500. Porter retrieved bills and a painting of red poppies and a Japanese geisha. The Red Cross put him up at a Ramada Inn.

Porter wasn't concerned with the bees Tuesday. He just wanted to get clean clothes and food for his cats - Scrappy, Lightening, Sabre, Scruffy, Black Beauty Marie and Zippy. By the time the fire was out, he had seen only Scrappy.

"They probably skedaddled," said firefighter Nicki Walker, allergic to bees and clad in protective gear. "There was too much going on with all the noise. We didn't see any inside."

Porter stayed upbeat, glad to be safe. He figured he'd get lunch at Denny's.

He just ordered Marie Osmond's new book, he said. It's called Might as Well Laugh About It Now. (Stephanie Hayes & Emily Nipps, The St Petersburg Times, 6/10/09.)



FORT MYERS, FL ---- A passing motorist may have saved the life of a Fort Myers, Florida man who was being attacked on Saturday by a swarm of bees near his back yard.

The victim says he was just mowing his lawn when he bumped into a hive.

Almost instantly, he says, he was being attacked by thousands of bees protecting their nest.

A passing driver saw the man flailing his arms and falling on the ground and stopped his car to get out and help.

Water from the garden hose scared off most of the bees but not before they stung the unidentified victim hundreds of times.

Experts have since removed the bees, but the homeowner says he's reluctant to return to his back yard. (Stateline News, 4/20/09.)



FT MYERS, FL ---- A Fort Myers man was attacked and stung by hundreds of bees Saturday afternoon. He said if it weren't for a complete stranger, he'd probably be dead.

He didn't want us to use his name, but the man who was attacked said he owes his life to a driver who passed by and got out to help.

"They attacked me like a bunch of mad wolves," the man who was stung said.

Hundreds of bees swarmed him while he was in his backyard.

"I was mowing the lawn, and I just bumped into the hive, or whatever you call it, and it just exploded."

The bees flew out and went straight for him.

"I thought I was going to die, because they were like rabid animals."

Luckily for him, a Good Samaritan was in the neighborhood.

"I saw the guy out there swatting around his head and not really ferociously. I thought maybe there was a bug and he was swatting it away, till I saw him drop to the ground, and I thought, there's really something wrong," Michael Mobley said.

That's Mobley got out of his car and ran to help.

"I knew I had to do something, so I grabbed the guy and pulled him closer to the water hose," Mobley said. By then, he was already stung hundreds of times all over his body.

One day later, he was thanking a complete stranger for saving his life.

"If the ambulance didn't come and if the person didn't squirt me with water, I would've died."

The man who helped save him, will never forget what he saw.

"It was amazing. It looked like a shadow around the guy there were so many bees. I thought I was watching the National Geographic Channel or the Discovery Channel because I've never seen anything like that."

When we went to the home Sunday, a man was there working to get rid of the bees, but the homeowner said he's still paranoid to return to his backyard. (Christina Hernandez, WINK News, 4/19/09.)


Bees Form Colony Inside Vacant Home In West Palm Beach

WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- Firefighters had an added challenge while battling a blaze at a vacant West Palm Beach home Wednesday -- they also had to fend off thousands of Africanized killer bees.

Shortly after 11 a.m., the vacant home on Seventh Street erupted in smoke, but it was no ordinary fire.

When firefighters chopped down the front door, thousands of Africanized bees poured out of the still-smoldering house.

"Because the house was vacant and no one paid attention, these bees can form a colony and grow in numbers quickly," said West Palm Beach fire-rescue Chief Phil Webb.

No one was stung, but the fire chief said the bees can pose a serious threat.

"A firefighter or a bystander could literally suffer hundreds, maybe even thousands of stings if they're attacked," Webb said.

Nobody was inside at the time of the fire, and neighbors said the house had been boarded up for years.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. (WPBF-TV 25, 4/15/09.)



WEST PALM BEACH, FL — As many as 1,000 bees confronted city firefighters this morning after a blaze broke out in an abandoned home west of downtown around 11:30 a.m.

The cause of the fire at 912 7th St. at Tamarind Avenue, is unknown, Fire Chief Phil Webb said.

The bees poured out of the front of the boarded-up two-story building as well as adjacent trees, Webb said. No one was reported stung — "not yet," one supervisor joked.

Firefighter Angel Serrano said bees are attracted to the carbon dioxide in exhalations. But he said headgear and uniforms protected the firefighters.

Firefighters who arrived just after 11:20 a.m. found flames shooting from a second story window, Webb said. He said the fire was quickly brought under control.

Around noon, a firefighter sawed through the front door as others sprayed foam to deter or kill any insects that came out.

There's no immediate word on a cause, Webb said. He said the building had previously caught fire about five months ago. (Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post, 4/14/09.)


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