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. leciat

    a 90 year old and a 92 year old live on a remote ranch with no telephone service? somethings missing from this story

    April 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • txdawn

      No one ever said they lived there in this home, I know this family and this is a ranch that has been in the family for years. They used it occassionally for family get togethers.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mama G

      It didn't say anywhere that they didn't have a phone. It said that there was a no cell service in their area. Think about it- if you had a swarm of bees in your house, would you stay in the house and use the phone? I think I'd get out as quick as I could.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      Maybe that's one of the secrets ...

      April 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stevey

    come on Obama its time to increase defense speading!!!!!!

    April 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul Revere


      April 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whaaa

      To protect us from bees?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hippie

      I think its to protect us from the African bees...maybe thats why we are fighting in Libya....makes more sense then anything else Ive heard.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. diane judd

    I'm truly sorry to here about the bee attack of the elderly couple , and am totaly amased that they were living on thier own , and still a couple. how sweet ! to me , this is what makes it so sad. it's rare all by its self, thier death was just as rare in how it happened. to live to this to this age and die like this is seem to be a one of a kind combination . not to make lite of this tragidy , thier memory could live on in the guiness book of world records. i truly am sorry about this though!

    April 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    No *cell* phone service.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. oldostritch

    This article fails because the insects responsible are unidentified. Differentiating between bees and wasps is simple. If the nest is paper,they are wasps. If the nest is wax,they are honeybees. Burning a nest of honeybees could lead to a major conflagration without adequate preparation as burning wax may be hard to control if it really gets going even in a chimney.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Good point. Wax melts and can run out of the chimney. I didn't think of that. I once cleared a small wasp nest with a propane torch. Got stung a couple of times but it was really fun. Lucky I didn't set the building on fire too. I was a lot younger in those days. Now I don't mess around with fire.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kayla

    They were probably Africanized bees, they are in all areas in the southern United States.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Phyllis North

    I'm guessing this was not their primary home, they showed up and found bees there.

    In any event, while their deaths were undoubtedly painful, they probably went into shock fairly quickly. This shows how quickly and unexpectedly our lives can end. Sobering.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kat

    No one deserves to die a horrible and painful death like this (except criminals). This sweet and elderly couple just didn't realize that this was the wrong way to handle the bees. It sounds like they were Africanized. They are prevalent in the South and moving into other areas. All need to be careful around hives as it is impossible to tell at a glance whether they are are the more agressive ones. My condolences to the family.

    April 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • nannerbella

      how do you know they weren't criminals? I know how you know they were elderly, but how do you know they were sweet? Just making a point that we read into things what our brain washed minds tell us is true.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leah

      Not even criminals deserve to die a horrible and painful death. Everybody makes mistakes, some have just made bigger ones... Have some mercy. It really is a shame how they died. It could have been prevented fairly easily.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Samantha

    OUCH!! One bee sting really hurts, but 300!!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    This is why I don't buy Burt's bees. or eat honeycomb cereal. or watch winnie the pooh. or get buzz cuts.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      I guess your never busy as a bee either, huh?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. snookers

    Sad story. Hopefully it will alert other folks not to tackle a beehive this way and call a professional...

    April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 2tired2care

    I guess they didn't realize how big the nest was. Killing 20 bees no problem, killing 2,000 bees, big problem

    April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 2tired2care

    Honeybees form huge nests/colonies. One should know what one's dealing with before one embarks in trying to do something. Big mistake resulted in tragic consequences.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Busy B

    Live into your 90's and then die like this?
    What a buzzzz kill.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 2tired2care

    I bet the bees were sent by god to bring this couple home to heaven.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Your post sounds like something silly that Pat Robertson or those Westborough creatures would say.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      Pat's dead, all he's saying is "Heeeeeeelp, get me out of this box." Or maybe, "Do they serve ice water down here?"

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