Horse Health

Thousands of Bees Attack Texas Couple, Kill Horses

Source: Multiple

“It got all dark, like it was nighttime there were so many bees…”

PANTEGO, Texas—A swarm of about 30,000 bees attacked a North Texas couple as they exercised their miniature horses, stinging the animals so many times they died.

Kristen Beauregard, 44, was stung about 200 times, and her boyfriend about 50 times, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Saturday ( http://bit.ly/12RiVMA).

But the horses, Chip and Trump, were so covered in bees they shimmered. Neither could be saved.

“They were chasing us down, they were following us,” Beauregard said of the incident Wednesday evening. “We swept up piles and piles of them … it was like a bad movie.”

The bees are being tested to see whether they are Africanized or “killer” bees. It is unclear what prompted them to leave the hive.

Beauregard was exercising Trump, a Shetland pony, when he started to jump and kick, she said. That is when a cloud of bees started stinging them all over. Trying to escape, she jumped in the pool and the horse followed.

“It got all dark, like it was nighttime there were so many bees,” she told the newspaper. “We were trying stand up in the water but every time we stuck our heads out for air, they would cover us and start stinging us. We were trying to breathe and they were stinging us in the face and in the nose.”

She escaped to the house, and her boyfriend called 911. Bees chased her, crashing into the windows of the house. Trump ran through the yard, rubbing against bushes in an attempt to wipe off the bees.

Beauregard’s boyfriend called 911 and firefighters arrived with special gear and a foam substance used to clear the bees. They were able to drag the horses to a pasture where police and paramedics tried to treat them.

Chip, a 6-year-old show horse, died before a veterinarian arrived. Trump was sedated and taken to equine veterinarian Patricia Tersteeg’s clinic.

“He was so overwhelmed by bites that his body could not handle it,” Tersteeg said. “That’s way too much for any 250-pound mammal to survive.”

The bees also killed five hens, and stung the couple’s dog.

9 replies »

  1. Hey, folks—this is a issue I can comment on with some authority. I am a beekeeper in urban Los Angeles, and only use feral bees (bee caught in the wild). The fact is, all feral bees in the Southern US are now displaying African genetics as lab testing has proven. This is because a experiment went bad in Brazil in the 1950’s by a Professor Kerr trying help the Brazilian honey industry develop a more heat tolerant bee than the pure Europeans (liking cool climates) they were using. Some of Kerr’s queen bees escaped into the environment and began breeding with the background bee population. The African bees he had imported were very tough, heat tolerant and extremely defensive in protecting territory. They are no more venemous than any other bee, they are just more likely to respond in great numbers and with ferocious intensity if they perceive disruption—vibration, large/dark shapes approaching their colony, invasion of their safety zone.
    As these bees made their way Northward, breeding with the locals, a lot of the more ferocious characteristics have been calmed, and since they are very disease and pest resistant, the south American beekeepers prefer them to the pure European bees.
    Hybrids of these wild Africanized bees reached the southern US in the 80’s and are now just a part of the background genetics of bees suited to warmer climates. The genetics cannot really adapt to the extreme cold of temperate winters, so that will limit the spread.
    Evidently, from other coverage, this colony was living in the wall of a shed on a neighboring property and the woman stung had asked the shed owner to clear the hive in February. This did not happen. These colonies are similar to the ones I often remove and re-home on a regular basis in LA, and they are fine, gentle, productive honeybees. They can be hived in human managed hive boxes and go on to produce pollination and honey with great resistance to pests and disease and little artificial support, like feeding and drug treatments. The attitude and demeanor of any colony of bees is greatly dependent on the genetics of the queen and what drones she has mated with, and differs with each colony. There are some really “hot” hives that should be exterminated, but in the main, the situation must be evaluated case by case. Bees are very important to 40% of the food supply (fruits, nuts, vegetables) eaten by humans, so we must be mindful of our debt to their services.
    I am guessing that the galloping vibration of the ponies and their large, dark shapes elicited aggression from the guard bees of the colony in the shed wall. They may have become crowded in their space, which makes all bees testy. Once the stinging chemicals of a few bees are released in a defensive move (these “pheromone” chemicals are very specific to danger signals to the bees) the mobbing of more bees to the targets is almost unstoppable. This is the basis of the Apis scutellata defense attitude (the African native bee) The hive should have been analyzed and taken away long ago, and I would not be surprised if this is not bringing a large lawsuit for negligence on the part of the shed owner.
    The BEST THING to do in a situation like this is to get INSIDE a enclosed space where the bees can’t follow—a barn, house, car. Really aggressive bees will follow a mile or more, so running away is not helpful. Jumping in a body of water is not a good safety move. She could have taken her horses in the house, even, but the frightfulness of the moment often takes away our good sense. I am really sad for the ponies and chickens and the reputation of honeybees that will suffer, too, from incidents like this. The “killer bee” and “Africanized bee” issue is largely a media sensation issue, and almost never is given proper background information when stories are written. Journalists come off like experts, throwing around “killer bee” epithets when they have no idea. MOST of these mass stinging incidents involve humans inadvertently disturbing a large feral hive by ripping into it— piles of lumber being moved by forklift, heaps of material where bees may have a hive and the humans decide to clean up with a skip loader. These often occur and bring wild press reports.

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    • Yes, another example of mankind’s meddling and trying to improve on nature in hybridizing bees – and causing more problems. We need to be careful about bees and spraying, so that our beneficial bees and insects are not further threatened. Precautions that don’t always include pesticides should be taken. The media is irresponsible many many times in reporting sensational stories, and should think about what they print, and what effect it will have after it is out in the public domain.

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  2. My Horse was killed last week by a killer bee attack. They were found in a hive near were he was tied out and some neighbors were chased by a swarm flying by.

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  3. This is so sad. The poor animals and people. They were stung and hurt and on top of that lost their precious animals. All this happened so suddenly. They could not prevent it. I feel so sad for them.

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    • Maureen—sorry, but did you read my remarks? It COULD have been prevented—the homeowner was told about the shed hive in February—she did nothing to have it addressed. This happened in July. This is irresponsible. I explained, as well, what could have set off the defensive response by the bees.

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