Bee attack puts landscaper in hospital

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by Catherine Holland and Natalie Brand

Video reports by Bruce Haffner, Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 23 at 11:05 AM

Map: 7th Avenue and Loop 101

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PHOENIX -- A landscaper is in the hospital after bees attacked him while he cut a tree Monday morning.

It happened at about 7:30 a.m., while the man was working in the area of Seventh Avenue and Loop 101.

Aerial video from the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed emergency workers pulling the man out of a pickup truck and putting him on a gurney. Paramedics took that man to a local hospital.

His condition was not immediately available, but according to the Phoenix Fire Department, he suffered a severe allergic reaction to the stings.

According to a fire department spokesman, work crews have had trouble with bees in this area. The men reportedly checked for bees before starting work, but they did not see any obvious activity.

Bees swarmed the victim as soon as he started cutting one of the trees, according to the Phoenix Fire Department. It's not clear how many stung him.

Firefighters said the victim initially was not responsive, but started to improve while en route to the hospital.

Allergic reactions to bee stings can range from relatively mild to life-threatening.

"Half of all people who die of bee sting anaphylaxis did not know that they had an allergy," according to WebMD.com's page about bee sting allergies.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a bee sting include

  • itching, hives or swelling over a large part of the body, not just the sting site;
  • swelling of the throat or tongue;
  • trouble breathing
  • dizziness;
  • stomach cramps;
  • nausea or diarrhea.

If you know you are allergic to bee stings, firefighters say your should carry an EpiPen or an Auvi-Q, and wear or carry some kind of medical alert. 

Emily Brown, also known as the AZ Queen Bee, says honeybees travel in thousands during swarming season, which generally occurs in the spring.

Brown said swarms are not always indicative of a hive. She also said you should not try to remove a swarm or hive yourself.

Experts say the best thing you can do if you encounter a swarm of bees is stay as calm as possible. Don't panic.

“If you see a bee like this, don’t do this,” beekeeper Dave Petersen while flailing his arms. “They sense aggression.”

Waving your arms or swatting at the bees is the worst possible thing you can do, according to Petersen.

“Stay calm; take a deep breath. Calmly walk away,” he said.

The USDA recommends running away quickly to shelter. Experts say crushed bees emit an odor that attracts more bees, which is why swatting is not recommended.

There have been several bee-related incidents already this year, and more are likely in the coming months.

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