Bees prevented help from reaching victim -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bees prevented help from reaching victim

Source: Dale Richter Source: Dale Richter

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Killer bees are now in Georgia. Tests confirm Africanized honeybees attacked and killed a Dougherty County man last week. It's the first time those aggressive and dangerous bees have been found in the state.

73-year old Curtis Davis died after he was stung more than a hundred times. The Department of Agriculture warns you not to go near a bee hive if you see one.

Last week firefighters had a hard time getting to Curtis Davis to get him help. While their heavy turnout jackets kept them from getting stung, the stingers stayed in the jacket and the difference with these bees is even after the sting, the stinger emits a pheromone that urges the other bees to keep attacking.   

It was the perfect storm, a vibrating bulldozer, smoke from a fire, and a colony of 30,000 Africanized bees on Williamsburg Road. Curtis Davis was at the wrong place and those agitated bees attacked.

"Imagine your arm, your whole arm, both arms, your chest, your whole face, your head just full of stingers-- they were still in him," said Tony Gray, Curtis Davis' son.

Gray tried in vane to help his father. "You couldn't get to him, you got too close to the bees, if you swat at one they'll send 20 or 30 after you and they were just attacking."

Firefighters used a fire extinguisher to rescue Davis but not in time. Family members weren't shocked these ordinary looking bees turned out to be the more aggressive Africanized variety.

"I'd never seen honey bees like that before."

"Obviously we think they came up from Florida, but the Africanized bee and the regular honey bee are very similar about the only way to do any positive ID is through DNA," said Bee Keeper Dale Richter.

Tests came back positive. Now the Department of Agriculture is setting traps like this one for the first time in Dougherty County to see if there are more.

"We will be putting out more traps that the Department of Agriculture will be monitoring to see if this is an isolated incident or if there are others out there," said Richter.

Emergency responders are spreading the word and planning new training.

"We're coordinating some training with some of the other agencies in Dougherty County to kind of inform the responders of what they may need and what possibly to do," said Chuck Mitchell, Albany Dougherty Rescue Team Commander. 

Davis' family hopes others will heed the warnings, their father didn't get. "He loved to build he couldn't stop, but the one thing about it, he died doing what he liked, that was working."

If you come across a be hive or colony, don't disturb them, go the other direction and call the Department of Agriculture, we'll put that information on our website or another professional to deal with the bees.

Officials say your should be careful entering sheds or out buildings where bees may nest. Examine work areas before using a lawn mower and other power equipment.

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Here is more information from the Georgia Department of Agriculture:

Africanized Honeybees

  • Are very defensive of their nest (also referred to as a colony or hive).
  • Respond quickly and sting in large numbers.
  • Can sense a threat from people or animals 50 feet or more from nest.
  • Sense vibrations from power equipment 100 feet or more from nest.
  • Will pursue a perceived enemy ¼ mile or more.
  • Swarm frequently to establish new nests.
  • Nest in small cavities and sheltered areas.

Possible nest sites may include empty boxes, cans, buckets, or other containers; old tires; infrequently used vehicles; lumber piles; holes and cavities in fences, trees, or the ground; sheds, garages and other outbuildings; and low decks or spaces under buildings.

General Precautions

  • Be careful wherever bees may be found.
  • Listen for buzzing – indicating a nest or swarm of bees.
  • Use care when entering sheds or outbuildings where bees may nest.
  • Examine work area before using lawn mowers and other power equipment.
  • Examine areas before penning pets or livestock.
  • Be alert when participating in all outdoor sports and activities.
  • Don't disturb a nest or swarm – contact a pest control company or your Cooperative Extension office.
  • Teach children to respect all bees.
  • Check with a doctor about bee sting kits and procedures if sensitive to bee stings.
  • Remove possible nest sites around home and seal openings larger than 1/8" in walls and around chimneys and plumbing.

As a general rule, stay away from all honeybee swarms and colonies.  If bees are encountered, get away quickly.  Do not stand and swat as this will only invite more stings.  If you are stung, try to protect your face and eyes as much as possible and run away from the area.  Take shelter in a car or building, and do not worry if a few bees follow you inside.  It is better to have a few in the car with you than the thousands waiting outside.  Hiding in water or thick brush does not offer enough protection.

What to Do if Stung

  • First, go quickly to a safe area. 
  • Scrape – do not pull – stingers from skin as soon as possible.  The stinger pumps out most of the venom during the first minute.  Pulling the stinger out will likely cause more venom to be injected into the skin.
  • Wash sting area with soap and water like any other wound.
  • Apply an ice pack for a few minutes to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Seek medical attention if breathing is troubled, if stung numerous times or if allergic to bee stings.

Don't Forget!

Hives of European honeybees managed by beekeepers play an important role in our lives.  These bees are necessary for the pollination of many crops.  One-third of our diet relies on honeybee pollination.

People can coexist with the Africanized honeybee by learning about the bee and its habits, supporting beekeeping efforts and taking a few precautions.

  •   Africanized honey bees swarm more frequently than other honey bees.
  •  Unlike typical hives that swarm once every 12 months with a new queen going off with the swarm and the old queen staying behind, Africanized honey bees may swarm as often as every 6 weeks and produce a couple of separate swarms each time.
  • Since Africanized honey bees swarm more often, the likelihood of encountering a swarm increases significantly.
  • Africanized honey bees are less selective about where they nest than European honey bees. They will occupy much smaller spaces than other hives and have found in old tires, overturned flower pots and mailboxes.
  • Regardless of myths to the contrary, Africanized honey bees do not fly out in angry swarms to randomly attack unlucky victims. However they defend a much larger territory than European honey bees and are extremely aggressive when protecting their territory and their brood.


If attacked:

  • RUN. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need assistance.
  • As you are running, pull your shirt over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting your head and eyes.
  • Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter.
  • Do not jump into water. The bees will wait for you to come up for air.
  •  If you are trapped, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes or whatever is available.
  • Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees produce a smell that will attract more bees.
  • If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately.
  • The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1,100 stings.


When you reach shelter:

  •  When you reach shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all

stingers. When honey bees sting, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the bee so it can't sting again, but it also means the venom continues to enter the wound for a short time.

  • DO NOT PULL OUT STINGERS WITH TWEEZERS OR YOUR FINGERS. This will squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

 If you see someone being attacked by bees:

  • Do not attempt to rescue someone being attacked by bees yourself!
  • Encourage them to run away or seek shelter.
  • Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack.

(Source: USDA)

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