Swarming bees kill elderly Texas couple
The species of bee involved in a fatal attack on an elderly couple has not been identified, a Texas paper reports.
April 20th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Swarming bees kill elderly Texas couple

An elderly Texas couple were killed by bees this week after they apparently tried to remove the insects from a fireplace in a house on a remote ranch, the Valley Morning Star reported Wednesday.

William Steele, 90, died Monday in the house on a ranch outside Hebbronville, Texas, about 100 miles west of Corpus Christi. His wife, Myrtle Steele, 92, died Tuesday after she was flown to a Corpus Christi hospital, the couple's daughter-in-law, Judy Steele, told the newspaper.

Judy Steele told the paper that the bees swarmed when her father-in-law sprayed a hive the insects had built in the small home's fireplace.

Her husband, Richard Steele, was with his parents when the attack occurred, Judy Steele, told the Morning Star. He was also stung but was able to drive several miles to the nearest phone to call emergency services, she said. There is no cell phone service in the remote area, she said.

Jim Hogg County sheriff's deputies responded and told the paper they were able to get Myrtle Steele out of the house.

“We were getting stung in the process, but we were able to place a blanket over her and take her to an awaiting ambulance - we did what we could,” the paper quoted Deputy Reyes Espinoza as saying. William Steele died inside, Espinoza said.

Judy Steele said her mother-in-law was stung more than 300 times.

Espinoza told the paper the species of bee involved in the attack had not been identified and the hive had yet to be removed from the house.

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Filed under: Animals • Bees • Texas
soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. Dave Peters

    Quoting from the article, "the species of bee involved in the attack had not been identified" Actually, if it was a bee, there is only one species that is possible, the honey bee. I suppose it could have been a species of social wasp (wasps are not bees, or vice-versa), but it seems unlikely.

    Honey bees are only a danger when you threaten or are perceived to threaten their hive. In this case, it sounds like the man attacked the hive, and this was the bees' defensive response.

    A poster above is correct that the term 'swarm' is not correct as used here. Swarming involves bees leaving their hive to find a new home; sometimes a clump of bees hangs in a tree until the new home is 'decided upon'. Swarming bees are generally not a threat.

    I am an insect biologist, and I would NEVER try to remove a honey bee hive myself. This is a case in which one really needs to hire a service of trained professionals.

    Condolences to their families and friends.

    April 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cheesekun

    Yeah too bad they didn't just light a fire

    April 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. herrsonic

    90 and 92, they probably had a good life.

    April 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gurleen

    God. Bless yoou andurr family

    April 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. You're kidding me?

    This is Obama's fault

    April 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mike

    i think they were wasps disguised as bees

    April 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mike heidner

    i think they were wasps disguised as bees, think bout it how could african bees slip across our protected borders

    April 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. synthemesc


    April 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Amy


    April 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dane Cook

    Why didn't they just punch all the bees in the face?

    April 20, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ccaze

      I think he was also allergic to peanut butter and was was eating a pb&j while taking out the bees. Would be hard to tell the real cause.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ccaze

    why is it that the bad bees are "africanized". Africans always getting the short end of the stick.

    Maybe Obama put the bees in their fireplace.

    April 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. skytag

    It is inaccurate to call their behavior "swarming." Swarming is when they're the process of moving to a new hive, not what happened here.

    April 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chopswell

    Never seen a BEE-PEARL NECKLACE....wait...leeve it to the HORSIZZ!

    April 20, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chopswell

    Yo mamma so sweet, she gott'a honeycomb 'tween'r thighs

    April 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chopswell

    Gonna take a LOTTA li'l tiny ropes to hang all them li'l African-Americanized beeez.

    April 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
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