(May 29, 2005) -- NLB has had two bee-swarm attacks in two days. The first killed a 70 pound dog [!], the second stung a 40 pound dog roughly thirty times in the face (the dog is recovering at a local vet). The attacks left multiple people stung.
LBFD Public Information Officer Capt. Jim Arvizu says the first attack took place in the 6400 block of Lewis Ave. on May 27 at about 6:30 p.m. The homeowners were putting their dog on the side of the house in a dog run as gardeners arrived to cut their lawn. When the gardeners started a lawn mower, bees swarmed from the area of a detached garage and began attacking the dog.
LBFD Engine 12 responded...and as LB firefighters donned their gear and bee hoods, they were stung. Firefighters worked to suppress the bees and a firefighter tried to aid the dog...and was bitten by the frightened animal. (The firefighter, wearing heavy gear, suffered a minor scrape). The dog ran under the house, refused to come out, suffered seizures and died.
LB Vector Control arrived and destroyed the bee hive; firefighters removed their heavy gear, crawled under the house and retrieved the dog for its owners.
The next day (May 28) in the 100 block of Norton St., family members were preparing to give their 40 lb dog a backyard bath when bees swarmed from next door, came over a fence and began attacking people and the dog.
The homeowner struggled to get the dog inside; a neighbor heard the commotion and came over to assist, eventually getting the dog into a house. The dog, dog owner and neighbor suffered multiple stings...and the dog got the worst of it: about thirty stings on its face.
When LBFD arrived, the bees had stopped swarming. The owner got the dog to a vet (last report, doing OK).
LBFD PIO Arvizu said there was an established hive inside a wall.
So were these aggressive Africanized bees? To determine for sure requires lab testing (measuring wings and checking DNA) but Capt. Arvizu said based on their behavior, he wouldn't be surprised if they were.
Capt. Arvizu offered advice to LB homeowners:
- Homeowners should do a weekly check around their property for new hives. Take sensible precautions before doing outside yard work or gardening. Do a quick check and look to see if there are bees swarming near the house.
- Africanized bees will make a hive just about anywhere: an overturned bucket, a hole in the wall (they love those), spare tires, storage sheds, chimneys, attics. All they need is a 1/8 inch opening.
- Africanized bees have been known to protect their hives for up to 1,000 feet -- especially on hearing vibration or noise -- and they will give chase up to half a mile [!].
- If you're being stung, seek refuge indoors...and if you're outside and can't get inside, run in the opposite direction until the bees stop chasing you. [!]
- Protect your face, eyes, nose and mouth. The bees are likely to attack your face because they're attracted to carbon dioxide.
- DON'T jump in a swimming pool! The aggressive bees will wait until you come up for air and then keep stinging you. If the multiple stings cause you to have an allergic reaction, you could drown.
Captain Arvizu says LBFD will respond in emergencies (i.e. when bees are swarming and people are being stung) and will report the hive to LB Vector Control if it's on city property. However if the hive is on private property, the property owner should call a professional exterminator or bee keeper. Don't try to deal with it on your own.