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:
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.
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
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.
When you reach shelter:
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.
If you see someone being attacked by bees: