As if mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus and the impending end of the world are not enough to keep Texans up at night, it now appears that we all need to worry about Africanized honeybee attacks, too, after three bee attacks were reported in Pflugerville and Austin in one week.
On Monday, an East Austin man attempting to do some DIY bee removal with a vacuum cleaner was stung. He then jumped in his car and, en route to the hospital, suffered an allergic reaction that led him to lose control of his car and crash into things including a pedestrian, several cars, and a house, the Statesman’s Jazmine Ulloa reported.
Then on Wednesday, bees living in a cabinet in a warehouse stung a forty-year-old man more than 300 times, the Austin American-Stateman ’s Benjamin Wermund reported. “The colony responsible for Wednesday’s attack was colossal — as many as 125,000 aggressive bees living on 120 pounds of honeycomb in a warehouse off Rowe Lane,” Wermund wrote. Two other employees were also stung, and a road had to be closed for four hours until the hive was found.
And on Thursday, an out-of-control vehicle crashed into a house, disturbing a hive. Three people were injured in that incident, one seriously enough to be taken to the hospital, according to the Austin American-Statesman ’s Claudia Grisales.
Africanized honey bee attacks seem to be on the rise. “The problem is that all wild bee populations are somewhat Africanized, he says, and the more aggressive a queen bee is, the more aggressive the hive will be,” Laura Rice reported at KUT.
“Bees are not a joke -– they can kill you,” Keith Huddle of Keith’s Bee Service in Pflugerville told KUT. “They don’t always fall into the, ‘It’s okay’ category. It’s just not that kind of an insect.”
When Africanized honey bees attacked people in Bastrop and Hays counties in 2010, scientists with the Texas AfriLife Extension Service suggested people might want to “consider buying a bee veil to keep in your vehicle or under your tractor seat,” said William Baxter, assistant chief inspector for the Apiary Inspection Service of Texas AgriLife Research. “They’re inexpensive and can be quickly put over a hat or cap to protect the head.”
Africanized honey bees look the same as normal honeybees because they are just different varieties of the same species. What sets them apart is their “highly defensive behavior,” according to Texas A&M University Honey Bee Information.