It sounds like one of every outdoorsman’s nightmares. Last week, 20-year-old Ohio resident Austin Bellamy was attacked and stung by approximately 20,000 bees, even ingesting several dozen, as he worked to help trim back branches for a friend. He’s currently hospitalized and, despite the severity of the situation, is expected to make a full recovery.
According to PEOPLE magazine, Bellamy had been cutting back a tree when he accidentally cut into a nest. Responding firefighters believe it had been full of African killer bees. In addition to 20,000 stings, the young man also ingested another 30. The outlet reports Bellamy endured kidney failure as a result.
Recalling the horrifying incident, Bellamy’s mother Shawna Carter said, “It looked like he had a black blanket on his head down to his neck, down to his arms…he had bees inside of him, and they suctioned bees out of him until Sunday morning.”
Bellamy’s grandmother also shared her sense of helplessness in witnessing the awful situation. Speaking with Fox affiliate WXIX-TV, she said, “I was going to try and climb the ladder to get to Austin…but I couldn’t get to him because I was surrounded in bees.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Africanized honey bees “are more defensive, stinging more with less provocation than other honey bees.”
Austin Bellamy woke up from a medically-induced coma on Wednesday, nearly a week after encountering the killer swarm of bees.
Texas Landscaper Killed By Swarm of Bees
As awful as Austin Bellamy’s encounter and condition are, he’s much luckier than Texas landscaper Franco Galvan Martinez. Martinez (53) of Austin, TX died after enduring a similar situation.
Late last spring, Martinez, a lighting technician, had been working on a suspended harness when several began to sting him. A witness, Joe Maldonado, said that in his panic, the late technician kicked away his ladder. Two men working with Martinez attempted to come to his rescue. But, they, like Austin Bellamy’s grandmother, could not as they were also surrounded by bees.
Firefighters who came to attempt a rescue tried blasting the bees away with a hose, however, it was too late. Like Bellamy’s attack, experts say Texas hives are typically populated by a mix of more docile European bees and the much more aggressive African bees.
In addition, compared to the Ohio swarm, locals nearby knew that a large hive of bees occupied the property on which Martinez was working. However, because the property was privately owned, reports state the Austin, TX government never attempted removal.
As we try to digest these horrific incidents, how can we go about protecting ourselves when swarmed by bees? According to entomologist Dr. Justin O. Schmidt, one of the most important things is to try to remain calm. He said, “When you see a bee buzzing near your head, I know it’s very satisfying to flap your arms … Don’t do it! Bad news! It’ll make everything worse. The bees feel threatened and their natural response is to rise up together and defend their queen.”