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'Bee' aware of swarming dangers in SE Arizona

Published: Jun. 21, 2018 at 10:13 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2018 at 8:55 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A buzz around Southeastern Arizona could lead to dangerous, even deadly situations with the Africanized bee.

"During the summer months or the fall months, when mother nature is not producing any food, they do get a lot more aggressive," said Chris Brinton, Owner and Operator of Bee Bustin and Life'Sweet Honey Farms. "They are going to come after you a lot more aggressively."

It's a danger we saw on Oracle Road Wednesday, after the Tucson Fire Department responded to the Lowe's Home Improvement parking lot for a swarm of bees.  TFD said several people and a firefighter were stung, but the real victim was a puppy close to the hive.

Tucson Batallion Chief Barrett Baker said a puppy stung more than 200 times is still considered to be in critical condition, but is showing marginal improvement.

"A lot of people don't realize that Africanized honey bees will send sixty-percent  of their population to come and kill you.  If that's 40, 50, 60-thousand bees in a season like this, you can do the numbers on how many bees are going to come out," said Brinton.

Batallion Chief Baker said Wednesday's bee attack on Oracle Road was the first swarm call for the department this month. Firefighters responded to seven swarm calls in April and May.

Brinton said it could have been the puppy that triggered the swarm.   He said things like sirens, dogs barking or even the smell of perfume could lead to chaos.

"Just as fast as it can be, if you are standing there and you don't know that hive is there, once they release that pheromone into that hive to come out and attack the predator, they are going to come out in force," Brinton said.

The hives could be hiding around your property, with most forming in the spring.  Brinton said his company responds to 2,000 to 3,000 calls a year.

His piece of advice - pay attention to your property and look around, in or underneath any dog houses or sheds you may have.  Brinton said its important to turn to professionals with any hive concerns, instead of creating a bigger problem.

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