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Three bee attacks reported in southern Arizona in one week

Posted at 2:45 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 02:54:25-04

A 53-year-old man was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson after being attacked by a swarm of bees in Tubac.

A spokesperson for the Tubac Fire District says the man was working at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. Fire crews got the call around 12:30 in the afternoon on Thursday. 

Patti Todd, a spokesperson for the country club, says the man was trimming a cottonwood tree and was about 70 or 80 feet in the air when he hit a branch that apparently had a beehive inside. 

The man was working for the Tucson-based company Landtamers, Todd said.

Todd says they do not know long the hive was there and they did not see any bees. An exterminator will be at the golf course on Friday, and a portion of it was closed until officials said it was safe, Todd said in an email.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said in the afternoon he man was alert and talkative. Sheriff Estrada says the man was in an elevated bucket.

This is the third reported bee attack in southern Arizona this week. On Wednesday a man in Rio Rico died after being stung, and another man was killed in the Drexel Heights area Monday.

A swarm of bees also delayed a Matchbox Twenty concert at Ava Amphitheater on Thursday.

Ray Kallasta, an inspector with Arizona Pest Control says he doesn't typically get a lot of bee-related calls this time of year. He says typically it's busier from March through June when the swarms are breaking up and they're looking for new places to live.

"Right now we've got late blooms because of no rains in the spring, and blooming going on right now," Kallasta said. "And what's happening is some of these bigger swarms are just starting to break up and you're getting a few where they are actually coming after people."

Bees are an important part of nature, and Kallasta says you can run into trouble when you get in between bees and their established hives. Loud noises and movement can make the bees angry, he said. 

"Bees are very susceptible to loud noises, they are susceptible to certain odors, and they are susceptible to certain colors, bright colors," Kallasta said.

If you do encounter a bee hive stay far away from it and call a professional, Kallasta said.

A spokesperson for the Tucson Fire Department gave the following advice: 

  •  If you get stung and you're having a hard time breathing, call 911.
  •  If you see a hive don't throw rocks or agitate it.
  •  Don't swat at the bees or make moves towards the hive.