(April 20, 2003, initial post 4:45 p.m., updated 8:25 p.m.) -- An Easter Sunday afternoon at El Dorado Park turned into a painful, frightening experience triggering an emergency response when bees -- riled up by something -- turned aggressive and attacked over two dozen people.
LBFD Public Information Officer Wayne Chaney tells LBReport.com the incident took place in the area of Gate 3 off Spring Street where people had gathered for Easter.
The bees, based in a tree, eventually stung roughly 26 people -- ranging in age from three to adult.
LBFD got the call at about 1:25 p.m. and triaged those affected. For some people, bee stings produce serious allergic reactions, including difficulty breathing and plunging blood pressure. LBFD took no chances, responding with resources adequate to transport people to hospitals if necessary...but fortunately, it wasn't.
[update] PIO Chaney said the bees were at the bottom of a tree in a hole about 10" high and about 6" wide. Someone may have tried to hide Easter eggs in the tree or a soccer ball's thumps may have angered the bees. Regardless of the reason, the bees were clearly peeved.
Mr Lamar Rush, Supervisor of LB Health Department's Vector Control, told LBReport.com, "The hive was well hidden. It was hard to tell there was a hive in there. Only somebody with a bee suit could actually see what I did."
He added, "When I looked inside, I could see the cones were dark, indicating the hive had been there for a while, maybe a year."
The bees have now been sent to bee heaven...and LB Vector Control will check tomorrow to ensure the hive has been completely eradicated.
Mr. Rush said, "With an older hive, bees tend to be more aggressive, more protective of a well established hive."
So were these the more aggressive, so called "killer bees?" Mr. Rush opined that So. Cal and L.A. County "has been well colonized by (more aggressive) Africanized bees, which have been breeding with (more docile) European bees, so I'd tend to believe they're a hybrid...but they may take on some aggressive characteristics."
Mr. Rush offered this advice: "This hive was well hidden with lots of undergrowth. Be careful. Bees could be anywhere."
The bees will be tested in the coming days to determine, by wing measurements and DNA, if they were Africanized bees, or some hybrid, or something else.