It was a classic honey trap.
A 911 call over someone getting stung by a bee in Pasadena, California, spiraled into a wild situation, with first responders including firefighters and police getting attacked by an aggressive swarm of an estimated 30,000-40,000 bees and multiple people being taken to the hospital.
At around 4 p.m. Thursday, someone called 911 about a person being stung by a bee near Pasadena City College, The Los Angeles Times reported. While only one person had been stung at the time of the call, the caller observed “several bees in the area” and may have had a sense that things could take a turn, Pasadena Fire Department spokesperson Lisa Derderian told HuffPost.
The first firefighter to arrive at the scene immediately “started getting attacked by the bees,” Derderian said, noting that the number of bees in the area at that point was absolutely massive.
“The call over the radio was, ‘There is a block-long swarm of bees,’” she said.
The firefighter’s first thought was to run back into the vehicle to take cover from the onslaught of stings, but then remembered his partner inside was allergic to bees, so any of the bees that followed him in could pose a deadly threat. Stuck outside, he ultimately got 15 to 20 bee stings, Derderian said.
The fire department called in police to cordon off the bee-filled area, and responding officers also began getting stung. Responders used foam and CO2 extinguishers to disperse the bees. Some bees were killed, though Derderian wasn’t sure how many.
“We tried to do the best just to get them to fly away and dissipate,” said Derderian, but she added that “public safety” was their primary concern.
A beekeeper called to the scene removed the hive, which had been located between the eaves and roof of a hotel, so that the remaining bees would not return and will presumably make their home in another location.
“The call over the radio was, 'There is a block-long swarm of bees.'”
“We work with a beekeeper often,” said Derderian. “Nothing to the magnitude we experienced the other day. ... That was more like a movie scene.”
In all, two firefighters, one police officer and two civilians went to hospitals to be treated, Derderian said. She added that some other people were stung but declined medical assistance.
A beekeeper called to the scene estimated there were between 30,000 and 40,000 of what he believes were Africanized bees, a term often used to refer to a hybrid of the African honeybee and European honeybees. While Africanized bees are generally more aggressive than other types of bees, the BBC notes that some media reports ― as well as their “killer bee” nickname ― overhype the danger that they pose.
“The term gives the impression that these bees are out to kill, when they are actually defending their hive,” entomologist Bert Rivera-Marchand told the outlet.
Derderian said officials would be back to the hotel to check whether any bees were still living in the walls.