City contractors attacked by bees in East Austin

Three city contractors are recovering after a swarm of aggressive bees attacked them in East Austin. 

The attack happened Monday afternoon at an abandoned home on Tillery Street. 

“The city called and said, ‘Emergency! Our crew was stung up. One of them's in the hospital. We don't know where the bees are. Go get them,’” said bee removal expert Walter Schumacher.  

One of the workers was stung about 100 times and remains in the hospital. Another man, who suffered about 20 stings, has already been treated and released. The final worker only got stung once. 

“1,500 stings and you’re dead if you have a really good tolerance to bee venom and, depending on his allergies, you know it could've been fatal,” Schumacher said.  

Once Schumacher, with the American Honey Bee Protection Agency, arrived, he immediately started looking for the culprits. He located a small hive under a structural beam on the outside of the home, but getting to the bees was a little tricky. 

“They had a really good headquarters and, so, it was hard for us to penetrate it and therefore easy for them to send out snipers and make you run away,” said Schumacher.  

Inside there were 50,000 bees ready to protect their queen. 

“The bees were super aggressive,” Schumacher said. 

One piece at a time, Schumacher removed the hive from the wall, along with several pounds of honey, but, even after that, the job was only half done. 

“Now, there's an additional hive here and, what I think happened is, these bees started going crazy and put the pheromone in the air to attack, that rallied those bees, so there was a little storm that occurred,” said Schumacher. 

The second hive, inside of a nearby tree, will have to be relocated using a trap which will take a little more time. 

Once the aggressive bees are removed Schumacher wants to add honeybee hives around the property to create a city-owned apiary. 

“Because it makes sense. All those beautiful trees, all that big yard, we could put 50 beehives here,” Schumacher said.