Three people were taken to the hospital after being swarmed by bees in a Northwest Austin neighborhood.
The beekeeper who responded to help said the men were doing landscaping work at two different homes, cutting trees, laying sod and mowing the grass. He believed the bees were agitated by all the activity and the vibrations of the mower, they felt threatened, and attacked. Walter Schumacher is the "Bee Czar" and with American Honey Bee Protection Agency, “To them they don't think it's attacking you, to them it's defending their hive and you're attacking them,” he said. Schumacher was called by the Austin Fire Department Wednesday afternoon to help after the three men were swarmed. Austin-Travis County EMS said they responded to the call around 12:30 p.m. of a bee attack on Weeks Cove off of Magnolia Mound Trail.
EMS said two of the men were stung between 50 and 100 times each and were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Another man was stung more than a dozen times but was released from the hospital later that day. Michael Gage lives in the neighborhood, “Definitely scary, it could happen to anyone. According to the contractor, he had bees all over him, and he was definitely in pain, hope he's okay,” he said.
The two men who suffered the most bee stings were at one home mowing the lawn and cutting trees. Next door another man was laying sod when he was attacked. “They sent some bees out to say ‘Hey get away’ and instead of the landscapers heeding their warning, they stayed and continued to do their work and swatted some bees with their hats and then the queen said ‘That ain’t happening,” Schumacher said.
After looking at the hives Schumacher said one likely had 150,000 to 200,000 bees and the queen will send out about 10% of her hive, meaning tens of thousands could've been sent to attack the men. “They target movement, and motion and so they see this as aggression not oh crap I am getting stung by bees and so they think that you are trying to hurt them so they send more bees to get you,” he said.
Schumacher said if you're stung by a bee and believe there could be more, shield your eyes and briskly walk to whatever door you can get into. “The bees that have stung you, they've already stung you and you're not going to not get stung by them but the ones that are coming, if you get into your car or you walk into your door they can't come after you.”
Schumacher said it could take a few weeks to get all the bees removed from the backyard.