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. Megan

    My thoughts and prayers to the family of the couple who died.

    What people need to learn is that all bees EHB (European Honey Bees) or AHB (Africanized Honey Bees), or hybridized honey bee will attack to defend their hive. It is possible that the "bees" in this story were a hybrid of a EHB or AFB. Another possibility is that the writer and those at the scene have mislabeled the insect that killed the poor couple. Many often call Vespid Wasps, Yellow Jacket, Hornet, etc. a honey bee...BIG DIFFERENCE.

    I hope CNN will follow-up on the results of the autopsy or report about the type of bee that was in this Texas couple's home. The last thing we need are people panicking about bees in general and trying to kill them off...Farmers are already doing that with their pesticides.

    For those afraid encountering an AHB, please read Dr. Mussen's article, 'Africanized Honey Bees in California.' I have copied an excerpt and link to the article below.

    "Massive stinging events involving AHB colonies have not been very numerous in the U.S. Some of the worst incidents have involved dogs that have remained near the nesting site once the stinging commenced and received in excess of 2,000 stings. In most human stinging incidents, sting numbers have approached the hundreds at worst, but usually were less than one hundred. Fortunately, there have been few human deaths in California caused by encounters with AHBs...
    Elderly individuals with compromised cardio-pulmonary systems seem to be at risk for bee sting-induced heart attacks.
    ...Africanized honey bees are not something to be feared, but they are to be respected. By understanding how they behave...."
    Mussen, E.C. Ph.D. Africanized Honey Bees in California. UC Davis Department of Entomology. March 16, 2011.

    April 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pretender

    Its seems very strange only couple got killed,

    April 21, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. pretender

    More investigation should be done .

    April 21, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. bigbear

    They should call Chuck Norris when they had bee problem

    April 21, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Toad

    Thank you Princess! But Mario is in another castle! PS. Chuck Norris jokes are stupid

    April 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    I was stung onceby an Africa Killer Bee but exactly 2 months later I turned into one

    April 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Travis

    Dear people trying to sound intelligent when bringing up "Africanized Bees".

    If you spray a bee's nest, whether it's africanized or not, they WILL attack you. They weren't being aggressive, an intruder showed up, attacked their home, they kicked his ass. Bee's have been doing this LONG before African bee's arrived in America.

    Not to mention, spraying a bee's nest when it's INSIDE your home, is pretty stupid. So is having 2 elderly people in a home without a land line. Stupid x2.

    This should actually be nominated for a Darwin award it's so stupid.

    April 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy

    Whatever kind of bees they were, and however dumb we think spraying a hive was, it's all moot now. This couple are now dead from a tragic mistake, and my heart goes out to them for they pain and suffering these two had experienced before their demise. My sympathy to the family of this couple; what a horrendous way to lose loved ones.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
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    April 22, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. kathy

    Just found a HUGE beehive filled with thousands of bees in a mesquite tree in our driveway. We live between Tilden, Tx. and Hebbronville, Tx. – Never noticed bees here before. Trying to determine what we need to do to remove them.

    April 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
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