It was an ordinary work day for my (then) 65 year old brother Bill, who resides with his wife Beth, in rural Bastrop County, Texas. Neighbors are far between. He raises a few goats, and enjoys putting in a garden. There are always projects to be done on their many acres, mending fences, repairing equipment, etc.
It was June of 07 and Bill was out mowing. Beth was inside; she looked out the kitchen window to see Bill off the mower, arms flailing in the air, yelling for help. Beth jumped into action, not realizing what was happening. As she approached Bill she felt stings on her head, neck and arms, and to her horror she realized they were being attacked by bees. Bill was already covered, with what looked like globs of brown moving fuzz. His glasses had been knocked to the ground in his efforts to knock the nearly one inch bees from his face. He was practically covered with bees by the time Beth reached him and she was also being covered. He grabs a water hose and tries to spray her down; the pressure was too weak to do any good.
By this time both of them are on the ground. Beth manages to crawl to the pickup and calls 911 from her cell phone as her mouth and nose are being filled with bees. Bill is on the brink of losing consciousness. The emergency operator dispatches help. My brother stumbles toward the driveway, passes out and hits his head on the cement; blood is seeping from his wound. Beth tries in vain to protect him as he lays unconscious and the bees continue attacking her.
After what seems like an eternity the ambulance arrives, an EMT gets out and the bees immediately began attacking him, stinging him 22 times before he makes it back into the ambulance. Beth stares in disbelief as she watches the ambulance back down the driveway, in her shock she surmises they are being left to die. Then she realizes the ambulance is making way for the fire truck. The fireman sprint into action, with hoses pointed on my brother and sister-in law, from about 4 feet away, the fireman turns the water on. The pressure is so great it rolls them around on the ground and it begins killing the bees. Covered in grass and mud Beth is able to climb into the ambulance, Bill is unable to walk and is carried into the ambulance. Both are seriously injured and in shock. The ambulance drives to an open area and they are transferred to a StarFlight helicopter.
My brother is in a semiconscious state, he’s confused and the noise of the rotor agitates him, he becomes combative thinking the bees are still stinging him. He has 12 stingers embedded in his eyelids. The EMT’s are trying to calm him down and start an IV.
Their bodies are beginning to swell immensely from the many stings. They are transported to Brackenridge Hospital. Both are sedated, their clothing had to be cut off, and for the next several hours, doctors and nurses fill three cups-one each of whole bees and broken bee bodies combed out of their hair and clothes, and a third with nearly 1000 stingers from their skin. Each of them suffered over a thousand stings.
My sister-in-law was hospitalized several days and my brother for several weeks.
It was later determined that as Bill was mowing, the rear wheels of the riding mower would bump a hollowed out log. Inside the log was a hive of Africanized Bees. After a couple of passes with the mower, the bees began attacking. He was not aware of the hive. Several weeks later the hive was located and destroyed by firefighters.
I can’t even imagine the pain and trauma they experienced that day. I know people from all over the United States were praying for them and God answered our prayers.
I will put a post on Bee Safety with this article.