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Killer bee attack near Modesto believed to be isolated

“Africanized” hybrid honeybees attacked a 70-year-old man who was walking his dogs near Modesto on July 5. This is the first documented attack of “killer bees” north of Madera. The man survived the attack. Agricultural officials believe that African bees have not colonized north of Tulare County and that the attack was isolated. Eric Mussen, a University of California, Davis apiculturist (bee expert) noted in his report on African honeybees in March that the aggressive bees invaded California in 1994, but never moved north of Tulare County.

The victim of the July 5 attack, Jack McBride, was stung more than 50 times, inside his nose and on his eyelids, face, neck , armpits and torso. The bees focused on his head and did not sting him below the waist. He fell and lost his glasses and then ran about an eighth of a mile, chased by bees the whole way, and took shelter in a house. McBride was treated with antihistamine and an IV before being rushed to a hospital, where he was given morphine for pain. A state laboratory confirmed the identity of the bees on Saturday.

The property owner brought in an exterminator who destroyed four nests, some in trees that required the use of a crane.

Mussen and Stanislaus County’ agriculture commissioner, Gary Caseri, said that bees likely swarmed or escaped a hive to repopulate elsewhere, after being brought in by truck to pollinate almond trees around Modesto.

A 55-year-old landscaper in northern San Diego County was killed by Africanized bees in June 2010 after disturbing a nest with a backhoe.

-Bill at

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