NW-side swarm of bees hospitalizes 2 victims

2nd E. side attack also sends woman for medical care
2013-05-03T00:00:00Z 2013-05-03T07:50:02Z NW-side swarm of bees hospitalizes 2 victimsCarmen Duarte and Kimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Bees swarmed a northwest-side neighborhood for several hours Thursday morning, sending two people to a hospital with stings.

A third resident and several firefighters were also stung numerous times.

Later Thursday on the east side, a woman was stung by several hundred bees as she walked past the Golf N' Stuff amusement park in the 6500 block of East Tanque Verde Road.

The woman was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition, according to the Tucson Fire Department.

Thousands of bees

Just after 8 a.m., Northwest Fire District received two 911 calls about thousands of bees swarming a cul-de-sac in the 5000 block of West Blackbird Drive, near West Linda Vista Boulevard and North Camino de Oeste.

Several engine companies arrived to find a professional beekeeper already there, said Capt. Adam Goldberg, spokesman of the Northwest Fire District.

"He was out on a routine service call at the request of the homeowner where the bees live. They were addressing the bee problem today and then they swarmed," Goldberg said. "This cul-de-sac was inundated with bees. It wasn't like they were isolated to one area. It was the whole cul-de-sac."

The beekeeper "was in a suit - head cover, gloves, everything - walking around covered in bees," Goldberg said.

Because the bees were so aggressive, the beekeeper advised firefighters to remain in their trucks until he could control the swarm. Eventually, however, the "beekeeper decided he was not able to get control of the swarming bees and requested assistance from the fire company," Goldberg said. The engine company used foam and "knocked down most of the bees in area."

At the same time, an ambulance backed up to the door of one of the homes where two victims had taken shelter after being stung. A 62-year-old woman and her 31-year-old son were taken to a hospital. They were in stable condition, but advanced life support measures were taken as part of treatment for an allergic reaction, Goldberg said.

A third victim, a 62-year-old man who was stung 20 times while taking a walk, was treated in his home and refused transport to a hospital, Goldberg said.

The beekeeper located the hive in the exterior wall of the home next door to the residence where the mother and son lived.

Based on the size of the hive, the beekeeper estimated it had been in the making for between two and three years, Goldberg said.

Three firefighters were stung about half-a-dozen times each, said Goldberg, who was stung once.

Second bee incident

In the east-side incident, a motorist saw the woman walking on a sidewalk in front of the amusement park being attacked by bees, said Capt. Barrett Baker of the Tucson Fire Department.

The woman made it to the entrance of Golf N' Stuff's parking lot and was covered by bees when the motorist called 911 shortly before 3 p.m., Baker said.

Firefighters arrived in five minutes, and put on bee suits and used foam and water to get the bees off the woman.

Paramedics treated the woman, who still had bees on her, before taking her to a hospital, Baker said.

No other people were attacked, Baker said.

Firefighters closed down the sidewalk, and a bee exterminator found the hive under a bridge over a wash south of the amusement park, Baker said.

He said the exterminator had expected to remove the hive by Thursday evening.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

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