Arizona‘s Northwest Fire District confirms the fatal encounter, where “at least six individuals were stung multiple times” by “hundreds of bees.”
One Arizona man is dead with three others currently in the hospital after the swarm of stinging insects attacked near Marana. In deadly events such as this, honey bees are rarely to blame unless an individual has an allergy. Most likely, the incident involved Arizona’s “significant population” of Africanized honeybees.
Also known as ‘killer bees,’ the species can become “highly defensive when protecting their hive,” states the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
In their press release via social media, the state’s Northwest Fire District confirms the tragic fatality and attack. Within, they state that “at least six individuals were stung multiple times” during the attack.
Fire crews’ arrival to the incident near Marana, Arizona mid-Thursday came after alerts of a bee swarm. There, officials would discover an enormous “open” hive in a tree – one weighing around 100 pounds.
“BEE SWARM INCIDENT: Around 12:00 p.m., Northwest Fire crews [would travel] to the area of Moore Road and Thomas Arron Drive in reference to a bee swarm,” the district’s statement begins. Read in full below:
In an update from 3:55PM on July 29, the station confirms one fatality: an adult male. While his identity is unknown, local Arizonans remain on edge.
“Three of our firefighters were stung multiple times while dispatched on the call,” the statement continues. One firefighter, would receive approximately 60 stings. Thankfully, the firefighter has since seen a release from the hospital after evaluation.
Is this an Arizona ‘Killer Bee’ Fatality?
“The other two firefighters did not need medical treatment. A large open hive, estimated around 100 pounds, was located in a tree nearby,” the press release concludes.
The report’s photo, seen above, shows Arizona officials dealing with the aftermath of the fatal incident. Full protective hazmat suits are in use. The officials, which NBC News cites as “bee handlers,” would then kill the majority of the insects… Then remove their 100-pound hive for local safety.
On average, fatalities from bee stings are rare. This chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an average of 62 deaths-per-year of bee, wasp, and hornet stings from 2000 to 2017. Oddly, 80% of these deaths are male, the CDC cites.
According to the Southern Arizona Beekeepers Association, several people die every year due to “unintentional disturbances of Africanized honey bee colonies.”
The association says that “a large number of the attacks are preventable, however. They urge individuals not to attempt to exterminate Africanized honey bees. Instead, call a professional to take care of it.
‘Killer bees’ are an invasive species native to Africa. In appearance, they are similar to common honey bees. Some distinctive physical differences between the two do exist, however.
*Wildlife Technician Note: If you or someone nearby receives a sting by any bee, hornet or wasp, the American Academy of Dermatology Association advises the immediate removal of the stinger if present. Then, wash the sting area with soap and water. Use an ice pack to reduce swelling, alongside an over-the-counter pain reliever, if needed.