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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Swarm of bees sting elderly couple to death after they move wood stove at remote ranch

By Daily Mail Reporter

An elderly couple died after being attacked by a swarm of killer bees at their remote ranch.

The bees struck as William Steele, 95, and his wife, Myrtle, 92, were cleaning their hunting cabin outside Harlingen, Texas.

They moved a wood stove, which disturbed a colony. Mr Steele tried to escape from the cabin, but the bees chased after him, stinging him hundreds of times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His wife, who was stung more than 300 times, was airlifted to a hospital 100 miles away, where she later died.

Their son, Richard, who was also stung, and his wife, Judy, were with them at the time.

The cabin was in such a remote location that there was no mobile phone signal and 67-year-old Richard had to drive several miles before he was able to call for help.

Mrs Steele told the local newspaper, the Valley Morning Star: ‘My husband feels terrible. He feels he didn’t do enough to help his parents. We just thank the Good Lord that they died together.’

Policeman Reyes Espinoza told how officers tried in vain to save Myrtle Steele. He said: ‘We were getting stung in the process, but we were able to place a blanket over her and take her to a waiting ambulance – we did what we could.’

Honey bees are not typically aggressive and won’t sting under most circumstances.

But the killer bees in the Texas attack are thought to be a hybrid originally introduced to Brazil from Africa in the 1950s.

Attacked: William T. Steele, 90, was spraying insecticide on a bees' nest in Harlingen, Texas, when the bees turned on his family

They spread north through South and Central America, crossing into southern Texas in 1990, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The bees swarm more frequently than native bees, and are extremely defensive. It is believed they feel vibrations and perceive them as a threat.

Once an agitated bee stings, it emits pheromones that signal to others to go on the attack.

Experts advise people to run for their car or inside a building if they ever come under attack from bees.



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