Lemon Grove Couple Attacked by Bees

By R. Stickney and Tony Shin
|  Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010  |  Updated 6:35 AM PDT
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Lemon Grove Couple Attacked by Bees


Toni Elliott of Lemon Grove describes the moment she and her husband were attacked by a colony of bees on July 13, 2010.

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Bee Sting Victims Describe Attack

One minute her husband Jim was gardening in their front yard, and the next he was screaming for help after being attacked by hundreds of bees.

Bee Swarm Attacks Couple in Lemon Grove

After a couple is sent to the hospital with dozens of bee stings each, firefighters, news crews and even the beekeeper are forced to take cover. You'll notice how there's no one in the street in this video.
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Toni Elliott can't believe how fast it all happened.

One minute her husband Jim was gardening in their front yard, and the next he was screaming for help after being attacked by hundreds of bees.

"The bees were running around his body, so I came, got a sheet, covered myself and then ran out, covered him and came in the house,"said Toni.

But some of the bees had followed the couple in and continued their attack before flying off.

Toni was stung seven times.

"It's like somebody attacking you with pins and sticking you and sticking you,"said Toni.

Jim, who suffers from a medical condition, got the worst of it.  He was stung 34 times.

"He had little stickers all over his arms and face,"Toni said.

The Elliott's were taken to a nearby hospital and released a few hours later.

The bees had come from a birdhouse in the front yard of the couple's homes on Mt. Vernon Street.

Toni said bees would occasionally use the birdhouse as a home over the past nine years.

She thought they were friendly harvester bees, but the professional bee remover called to the scene said they were probably Africanized hybrids.

"Eighty percent of the bees in the county are hybrids," said Jeff Lutz of Bee Best Bee Removal.

Lutz said Africanized bees are extremely aggressive and will attack if people get too close to their hive.

The first fire crews to arrive on scene had to take shelter inside a nearby home, according to Heartland Fire spokesperson Leonard Villareal.

Sheriff's deputies also had to close down Mt. Vernon St. around 1:15 Tuesday afternoon as a precaution.

Dressed in protective gear, Lutz covered the birdhouse with a bag and took away the majority of the bees.

He later found another hive about five homes down and destroyed it as well.

Recently, a backhoe operator in Encinitas died from a heart attack after he was stung up to 500 times by a swarm of bees.

Also, on June 19, bees attacked two police officers searching a canyon for a car thief in the Moreno District. One of the officers was stung 20 to 30 times but was said to be doing okay.

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