General — 27 January 2018 — by Albert J. Ciego
Omar Cruz, 62, dies after killer bee attack

UNITEDVILLE, Cayo District, Tues. Jan. 23, 2018– Omar Cruz, 62, a farmer and resident of Unitedville, was cutting the grass in his yard with a lawn mower and his son, Adrian, 31, was helping him clear the yard when suddenly, killer bees swarmed and attacked Cruz.

He tried to get away, but reportedly fell and that was when the bees began to sting him.

His son ran into the house and alerted the other family members, who ran to help him, but their efforts were in vain. They had to retreat, and the bees sustained their vicious attack on Cruz for about 45 minutes, after which the bees’ attack abated.

Cruz was rushed to the Western Regional Hospital in an unconscious state, but he was declared dead on arrival.

Amandala was told that since Adrian was also stung, he was treated at the hospital and later released.

People in the area had seen the bees and said that they were nesting in a nearby abandoned building. They believe that the sound of the lawn mower agitated them, causing them to swarm.

After the attack, the chairman of the Unitedville village council called the Forestry Unit to come to the village to destroy the bees and the hive. The villagers were also concerned because children were about in the village, and they were afraid that the movements of the children while running and playing would agitate the bees, and cause them to swarm.

Today, we were informed that the chairman is still waiting for the authorities to come and remove the bees.

During an interview with us today, Mario Howe, Extension Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, told us that the bees were living near the Cruz house for sometimes and no report had been made to their office. He said that the office is closed on weekends.

They were informed after the incident, they said, and they intend to remove the bees. Howe advises members of the public that if they see bees in or near their home, they should not try to remove them, but should call the department immediately and the matter will be given immediate attention.

Howe said that at this time of the year, they are getting a lot of reports of killer bees, because it is the time of the year when the hives tend to be more productive, and the bees multiply more quickly, and they could swarm if they are not managed properly.

Also, Howe said that, if not managed, the bees will find places to live, such as in holes in trees and houses, and they become aggressive if they are disturbed, and they will attack anything that moves.

The death of Omar Cruz has occurred less than a year after another death was caused by killer bees. On May 19, 2017, Cruz Chan, 60, a domestic of Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo District, went to pick up her grandson from school in the Kontiki area of San Ignacio when a strong wind blew and the bees that were nestled in a tree near the school swarmed and attacked the grandmother, who was waiting for the child near the tree, and stung her.

Students who were on school break at about 2:30 that Friday afternoon were also attacked, causing them to run into classrooms, and the school was closed.

After the bees’ attack abated, the grandmother was rushed to the Western Regional Hospital, but she was declared dead on arrival.

Members of the public should make routine checks on their homes and properties for cracks or holes where bees might establish a hive. They are advised to cover or fill potential hive sites; holes in trees, eaves, outer walls and carports, and they should remove debris like old tires and piles of wood.

Also, before using motorized tools like chainsaws or lawnmowers, they should check the area for bees and beehives.

If you are attacked, do your best to remain calm — don’t scream or flail about because the bees will escalate their attack. While covering your face, run as far away from the area as fast as you can. These bees will chase you for a distance (about a thousand feet), but they will eventually give up.

Assist the elderly by helping them cover their faces; if with a small child or infant, carry them with their face tucked directly into your body.

Information we gathered through research has also indicated that killer bees are slow fliers, so your best bet is to outrun them and get to shelter. Running through shrubbery can slow or distract pursuing bees.

If you can get in your car but can’t leave, close all the windows and doors. Don’t make any noise by using the radio or honking the horn. Call 911 and wait for the bees to leave.

Should you get to a house, tent or camper any bees get in, don’t kill them, as their dead bodies will emit a pheromone that will attract and anger the other bees.

If you see a “stranded” bee in a room, turn the lights on – this will confuse it and it’ll scramble to the nearest window. If there are no other bees outside that window, let the bee out, then close the window immediately.

Whatever you do, don’t jump into a nearby pool or lake in the hopes that the bees will leave while you hold your breath underwater. They’ll wait for you to come up for air and sting your face.

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