Swarm of Bees Attacks Cops

They were searching a canyon for a theft suspect when the bees attacked

By Michelle Wayland
|  Saturday, Jun 19, 2010  |  Updated 2:33 PM PDT
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Bee Keepers in Demand

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Man Killed by Swarm of Bees

A landscaper was stung more than 100 times from head to toe.

Bee Keepers in Demand

Local pest control operation sees a drastic rise in business during bee season.
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Bees chased and repeatedly stung two San Diego police officers as they searched a canyon for an auto theft suspect, police said.

A Lojack security device, installed in a 2003 Ford Expedition, alerted police to a vehicle theft near Gaines Street in the Morena District at 8:42 a.m., police said.

An officer saw the Expedition and tried to pull over the driver, but he fled. The suspect led police on a short chase, then stopped and ran into the canyon.

As officers searched the canyon, the bees attacked. One of the officers radioed that he had been stung 20 to 30 times. The other reported being chased by the bees and that he had also been stung.

Both officers were taken to a hospital and were doing okay, police said.

The suspect was taken into custody on Cirrus St. shortly after the bee attack. His identity was not immediately released.

It's not yet clear if the bees are the same aggressive kind suspected in Wednesday’s deadly bee attack in Encinitas.

Marco Lazaro, 54, was operating a backhoe at Manchester Ave. and Pacific Ranch Dr. at about 11 a.m. Wednesday when he disturbed the hive and unleashed up to 80,000 bees.

Lazaro ran about 200 yards to an outhouse in an attempt to escape but it was too late.

By the time paramedics arrived, the diabetic man had been stung up to 500 times and was in full cardiac arrest. He was transported to Scripps Encinitas where he was pronounced dead.

It's not known with certainty if the bees that attacked Lazaro were the aggressive Africanized type. The Africanized bee is much more aggressive than its cousin, the European honeybee.

This is bee season, the time of year when beekeepers get a lot of reports of swarms of bees. They say those swarms are not necessarily dangerous if left unprovoked.

"Probably many people have been driving along and have driven through a bee swarm, and those are just simply bees that are moving from one place to another looking for another hollow tree or place to live.  They're not aggressive, they're not going to sting people," said Stephen Tanksley.

Brian and Stephen Tanksley own Pinpoint Pest Control. They say before the Africanized bees arrived ten to 15 years ago, they would get a few calls a week for bee removal.

Now, they're seeing up to 15 jobs a day.

While beekeepers say only four-percent of the population is highly allergic to bees, an attack can be dangerous for anyone. In fact, they say 50 stings could threaten the life of an average healthy adult.

"You can only take so much. Anyone can. At a certain point, the heart gives out; the lymph nodes expand so much your throat closes out. There's a variety of ways to go from that," said Brian Tanksley from Pinpoint Pest Control.

They say the best thing to do when encountering aggressive bees, is to run in a straight line. The bees fly in a zigzag. Also, never jump into water. They say the bees will wait at the surface for someone to come up for air.

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