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. Ramesh V

    Deeply saddened to hear this tragic news. May they RIP.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tee

    Its high time the Bees fight back

    April 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Takeanotherlook

    Bees, Hornets, Wasps are becoming More AGGRESSIVE lately.. Got stung by 4-5 Hornets last May.. don't you know every bee that passed by me or I can in contact for the next 3 months approached me with the intent to sting me once I had been stung once taht season.. My Doctor says some type of pheromone is given off & all bees are predisposed to sting you..as you have been 'marked' to be stung again.. Those deputies and everyone that got stung around them will have the same curse I did for the next 3-4 months...

    April 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingBee

      rofl TakeAnotherLook rofl – you pay that doctor?
      African, or European?
      European bees are not migratory.....and therefore...
      A WITCH!

      April 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      They can wash it off with tomato juice

      April 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Debbie

    My condolences to the family.
    A couple of years ago, a part of a hive set off with a new queen and suddenly decided the cooler weather necessitated stopping on the side of my house, protecting the new queen from the dropping temperatures and making quite a large area of honey bees.
    I called a local pest control company. The expert said they would leave as soon as the weather warmed up the next day, and he was right. If they had stayed, I was prepared to have a bee keeper collect them, since we have been having a decline in honey bees in Texas over the past few years. No sense in destroying them–just move them away.
    It was quite a sight, seeing all of those bees on my daughter's bedroom window. They left the next day.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bam

    Texas the BARREN waste land that a Shuttle was supposed to go sit and rot at....

    "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."

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • and?

      Texas is bigger than most countries idiot....

      The shuttle would have been in a highly populated area, not the country. This story however is about an elderly couple who lost their lives. This has nothing to do with anything else, so please stop being a moron.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Texas is so large that it can have it all-urban, coastal, mountain, and yes, desert and scrub. There are some pretty large ranches that have their own zip codes.
      I'm sure there are some areas that don't have cell phone towers. It would be pretty hard to cover the whole state.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The King

    Bees 2; humans 0

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Redeye Dog

    You read stories and with most, you can grumble about it in some way. This is one of those that leaves you empty for words.


    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Logic

    I would have seriously sought professional (exterminator) advice if not outright help on removing bees in ANY part of the country let alone the southwest part. Son-in-law should have known better. Don't know if the guy who died was a stubborn old coot but sure sounds like it.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • David, CA

      number one thing an exterminator will tell you is DO NOT spray the hive like this. You'll only make them mad.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. IBeeeeelieve

    Wow, what an un-bee-livable story.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Katie

    One of two things will happen. Either someone will sue bees, OR, someone will suggest that we kill ALL bees because a few people died.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    "An elderly Texas couple were killed by bees"

    An elderly couple WAS, not were. More great journalism from an electronic news source.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Atl

      were – not was
      You don't speak english do you

      April 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • asrael

      Nobody wins this fight; just ask the Brits, who say "the team were", etc. all the time...

      April 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gecko

      Sorry, but COUPLE is singular, not plural – COUPLES is plural – so it is indeed should be WAS not were.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gecko

      And before you ask, yes I do speak English and was born in the US and have a BS in CS/Math. However, I don't type so well. Sorry about that.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Red Fish

      "Couple" is a collective noun and can be singular or plural, depending on the context. If presented as a single unit or amount, collective nouns are singular; if presented as individual or countable items, they are plural.

      That said, whether a collective noun is singular or plural frequently depends on how an author thinks of his or her subject. In this case, the journalist considered the elderly couple as two separate people who were killed by bees. Had he treated them as a single unit (using "was" instead of "were"), he also would have been correct. Grammar is tricky.

      My condolences to the family during their time of grief.

      – Former English professor

      April 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RichG

    Gotta hate bees, but we would not exist without them.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Leela

    I don't know what you did, Fry, but once again, you screwed up! Now all the planets are gonna start cracking wise about our mamas.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Just listen

    I was stung one time 15 years ago coming back from the river with my arm out the window, kept driving got to the grade and thought I should turn around and go to a hospital so bad wrote a note on dash died from be sting, Made it to hospital. 15 years later Quit carrying my epin thought I was tough and over it. had a hive sprayed during the day and night. Got one sting and ended up in hospital told if mre then one would have stung me I could have died, now I'm noided out. Maybe I should keep some co2 fire extinguishers on my property incase a swarm comes and I can't get to the house in time.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Genius

      What are you, Grandpa Simpson? That story made no sense.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. arch

    The killer bees were real bad when they first came across our border down by Brownsville, TX. Over the years they have bred with our honey bees and other types and aren't as bad. That doesn't mean they can't kill you or really hurt you. It just means they aren't as aggressive as the original bees. However, yellowjackets are a different breed. They are in the family known as wasps and are very aggressive and mean. They can repeatedly sting and they don't give up. You better get into a safe place or the water. They will actually hover over the water and wait till you come up for air and then hit you again! One real bad thing about them is they not only nest in trees, shrubs, etc., but also in the ground. So, when you are walking in the woods and accidentally step on the nest they come out for a full blown fight. When you see a nest or hive leave it alone. Call an expert and let them take care of it the right way. If you live near the woods or areas where there are tons of flowers, etc. always have a few bee/wasp kits on hand for emergencies. When walking in the woods always wear clothing that covers your body totally. Tuck your pant legs in your socks. Zip your jacket up all the way. Wear a hat. Common sense will save you from much pain.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
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