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. Daniel

    Help! I've been stung and I'm all swolled up!

    April 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PDXSerric

    First fires and now bees?

    God really does hate Texas, it seems. Way to go, Pat! Way to go...

    April 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jendlfy

    Okay. I'm confused. I've always thought feral meant wild. Well, where I live all the bees are wild, but they certainly aren't Africanized.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      jendlfy,

      Feral means that they are a domesticated animal that is living "wild" in a non-native environment. Since honeybees are not native to North America, the ones living in the wild (not part of an apiary, or bee farm) are considered feral. A yellowjacket in the same area (North America) would be considered wild (not feral) because it is native.

      Does that clear things up?

      April 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. michelle

    This kind of stories give honey bees a bad rap. Most likely these were not bees at all, but yellow jackets or hornets. I wish journalists would do their research before posting a headline like this.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • dan

      Actually, the stinging animals in question WERE almost certainly honeybees. There have been numerous deaths attributed to mass attacks by honeybees in Texas over the last two decades. That is not the case with yellowjackets or hornets.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HeIsGod

    My heart goes out to these elderly couple. May God have their souls in His Glory.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Greg

    Bees have a mob mentality and will do everything they can to protect the hive when it is threatened. In a closed in space, like a living room, aggrevating of a colony of bees, killer or otherwise is not a good idea. Smoke does not calm bees or mess up their communications. Smoke makes bees think there is a fire and puts them in evacuation mode. They will return to the hive, gather as much homey as possible and leave. We use smoke to check the hives and gather honey. The effect is short lived and they once the smoke is gone they return to normal. I kept bees for years, inspected hives, gathered honey many many times and have been stung a total of three times. Just don't tick them off, that is the key.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Danii

    That's sad... Oh well, may they rest in peace.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ken

    This is awful. The couple lives to 90 and 92 years old and a bunch of bees do them in. I am so sorry for the family.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jfar

    build a fire to smoke the bees out? thats not the best idea, i live in texas and someplaces are already reaching 100+ degree weather. not including the massive grass fires we have everywhere

    April 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeepers

    That's one of those things you should probably call in a professional for...especially if you're 92.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. phyl

    how sad 🙁

    April 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. W

    Sad story, what a buzz kill!

    April 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hunter

    Guh, I have a phobia of bee's from my childhood, stung inside the right ear... bee got in the way of the car door and stung me... goosbumps all over me... RIP

    April 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jerryc

    The guess the nasty liberals will be cheering for this like they are the wildfires.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • PDXSerric

      And the Ignoramus of the Year award goes to.....

      April 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. denim

    Very sad. I'm mildly surprised they had no land line.

    April 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
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