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.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Bees • Texas
soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. julie

    do you all know killer bees are now being found at 8,000 feet true fact MONSTERQUEST! if you are allergic you can die from allergic reaction.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • and?

      Same is true for peanuts

      April 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead61

      Yes...but peanuts don't swarm

      April 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • asrael

      I believe that you can die from any bee sting...if you are allergic...

      April 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Inquisitive

      Who would win a fight between a swarm of bees and Mr. Peanut?

      April 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mizh

    I can't even imagine.... I'm so sorry for those poor people. What a horrible way to die. Shame on you morons who are making light of this tragedy. Grow up. Karma is a beeyatch.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • and?

      And then you turn around and say "BEEyatch"?

      You're a dummy.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ex beekeeper

    The bees were not swarming. Swarming is when they fill up with honey, basically get drunk, and leave their hive to start another. They won't bother you when they are swarming. This was a defensive attack by bees. One time the kid next door decided to throw a big rock at one of my dad's hives in our backyard. This was in the 50's and he was lucky those bees were non-africanized bees.

    I feel sorry for their family's loss.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. julie

    any one with a bee problem please get a local expert to come out to take them to a hive and process the honey. I want every one to be safe. Please do not handle bees alone they send out a pheromone that tell other bees to attack

    April 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jason

    wasp and hornets are one of the few things that will make a man cry if you are stung. my condolonces to the family.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BB

    As Clint Eastwood would say, "you dont reach for that honey....without smokin tha hive"

    April 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheepherder9

      yea Randy Travis said that, but nice try.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew Thorby

    As a beekeeper I can assure the readership that this elderly couple came in contact with an Africanized hive. There is an extremely high probability that any wild hives encountered in the Southern border states are Africanized. I have only had to deal with one of these hives in my time as a beekeeper and I can attest to the ferocity of their attack. Even fully protected I was stung over 40 times.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Mom

      As a bee keeper can you answer this..Is it fairly fool proof to take care of the bees at night? For example, in this case, would it have been fairly safe to set off a bug bomb in the fireplace, block off the fireplace so that the bees could not come into the house, and the family go into another part of the house for an hour or so to stay away from the fireplace?

      April 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Warren Miller

    I'm Warren Miller and I love to ski.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Don Mark

    Very unfortunate and sad.
    It is highly recommended that a professional beekeeper should be engaged to safely remove an unwanted colony of honeybees whether in a fireplace or wherever. The process is actually quite simple once the queen and brood nest is found removed and placed in an empty beehive outside.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chris

    I am a beekeeper and no not all feral bees are africanized, only in the deep south are they there. A colony can have 10,000 to over 60,000 bees. the bees were protecting their young (brood). Messing with bees can be deadly, leave it to the professionals. It is very sad that this incident resulted in loss of life when it could have been easily avoided.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    One way to rid yourself of bees is to use a Co2 fire extinguisher. You blast the area leading to the hive as you approach the hive, and then completely engulf the hive with C02. It freezes it immediately (instant winter) and it also makes any flying bees around the hive immobilized. You can then be humane and remove the hive to somewhere else to thaw and they wake up unharmed or you can douse it with insecticide if you choose to not be humane.
    Just one person’s way that has worked for me.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DELOACH

    i blame the Wu-Tang Clan.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. johnborg

    Regular honey bees or bumble bees are nothing to be afraid of (unless you have a bee-related allergy). What likely stung the elderly couple were African or Africanized honeybees. They were transported to S. America and became invasive. They moved into the U.S. in recent years. They can't make it to far north because of winter temperatures. However, they have developed colonies in the South, especially in Texas.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Missouri Mama

      My understanding is that they have now proven that these bees are capable of moving north because they have evolved/adapted the body-heat "bundling" method that is characteristic of the English Bees the African Bees were initially breed with. I've heard confirmed reports of them in Arkansas and unconfirmed reports of them in southern Missouri...

      April 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • and?

      What you fail to realize or admit is that all bees will attack you if you threaten their hive. European honeybees will kill you just the same as the Afrcian honeybees if you can not get away. The only difference once the attack has begun is that the African bees will chase you further.

      In this instance, the type of bee does not matter as it was an enclosed space and neither of the couple was in any condition to flee.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jack

    Added to the list of the things a 90 year old man should not be doing.

    April 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. roughriderci

    seriously dude??

    April 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14