Bee Attack — Africanized Killer Bees Attack People In Texas, Kill Their Horses

Two dead horses, five dead hens, and their owner with a couple hundred bee stings — that’s the end result of a recent bee attack in Texas. The bees in question initiated the attack on Kristen Beauregard and her animals shortly after she had finished exercising the two horses on Wednesday afternoon — according to Beauregard, the attack was completely unprovoked, her and her animals were nowhere near the hive at the time.

Image Credit: Africanized Bee via Flickr CC
Image Credit: Africanized Bee via Flickr CC

She described the attack as like a “dark cloud” appearing out of nowhere. “It was just black out here. It looked like nighttime out here,” Beauregard stated in an interview with local reporters. After the attack began she immediately made her way into her swimming pool and instructed her 1-year-old Shetland pony, Trump, to do the same.

“And I watched that horse who trusted me to always, always take care of him and I watched him look up at me in so much pain and thrash around and look at me like — why aren’t you fixing this?” Beauregard explained.

Both Trump, and another 6-year-old miniature show horse named Chip, died as a result of being stung at least several thousand time. It was initially assumed that the hive in question — which consisted of an estimated 30,000 bees inside the wall of a shed on the property — must have consisted of Africanized killer bees, which event tests seem to have confirmed. The hive in question has now been “disposed” of.

“A beekeeper disposed of the bees yesterday morning due to the fact that they were aggressive,” an official stated. “We were told it was a hybrid honey bee.”

Some background on Africanized ‘killer’ bees:

“Africanised honey bees, known colloquially as ‘killer bees’, are some hybrid varieties of the Western honey bee species, (Apis mellifera), produced originally by cross-breeding of the African honey bee A. m. scutellata, with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and the Iberian bee A. m. iberiensis. The hybrid bees are far more defensive than any of the various European subspecies. Small swarms of Africanized bees are capable of taking over European honey bee hives by invading the hive and establishing their own queen after killing the European queen.”

“African bees are characterized by greater defensiveness in established hives than European honey bees. They are more likely to attack a perceived threat and, when they do so, attack relentlessly in larger numbers. Also, they have been known to pursue their threat for over a mile. This aggressively protective behavior has been termed by scientists as hyper-defensive behavior. This defensiveness has earned them the nickname ‘killer bees’, the aptness of which is debated. Over the decades, several deaths in the Americas have been attributed to African bees. The venom of an African bee is no more potent than that of a European honey bee, but since the former tends to sting in greater numbers, the number of deaths from them are greater than from the European honey bee. However, allergic reaction to bee venom from any bee can kill a person, and it is difficult to estimate how many more people have died due to the presence of African bees.”

“Most human incidents with African bees occur within two or three years of the bees’ arrival and then subside. Beekeepers can greatly reduce this problem by killing the queens of aggressive strains to breed gentler stock. Beekeepers in South Africa keep A. m. scutellata using common beekeeping practices without excessive problems.”

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