By Grayson Edds
The City of Belton had to call in reinforcements after discovering an angry bunch of bees outside of the finance building. At about 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon, the employees at the finance building on S. Davis became aware that something out of the ordinary was causing people to rush into their building.
The bees weren’t swarming, but there would be one, then two, then four, and they weren’t just buzzing happily between flowers, they were stinging.
“Initially, a City employee was stung, then a couple of girls were chased in by the bees, another patron had them buzzing around,” said City of Belton’s Paul Romer. “At that point, we realized it was a little unusual and called Public Works. The Public Works guy got stung. At that, we called the beekeepers out.”
They also blocked the road in a half-mile radius to reduce traffic coming to the area. The fire department came to assist, and Chief Francisco Corona pulled cars up to the door for patrons and employees, helping them to get to their cars in safety.
The whole ordeal started when a nearby homeowner removed an old log from his property – and the hive was inside the log. When the log was removed, the bees became angry.
“They were extremely aggressive,” said Romer.
One City employee was stung more than eight times when he tried to assist a woman and her small children to get back in the car and away from the bees.
Z’s Bees came out to the scene to assist with the situation.
“We put out some honeycomb to try and lure the bees into the comb,” said Michael Zambrano of Z’s Bees. “It was not very successful.”
Bees are attracted to the pheromones of the queen bee, but when she’s missing – in this case probably moved with the log – the bees left behind become aggressive until they can make a new hive with a new queen or join another hive.
The bees weren’t sent off for testing to see if they were in fact Africanized, but Z’s Bees acknowledged that about 80 percent of the bees that they encounter are.
“The bees from South America have slowly, but surely, taken over almost all of Texas, moved into New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and the surrounding areas,” Zambrano said.
The rain helped to calm down the bees on Saturday, and the situation dissipated. Zambrano’s advice for any who find themselves surrounded by bees is to evacuate the area and call it in.
“Stay clear, especially if you’ve never been stung,” he said. “If you’ve never been stung, and you have a reaction, you have 10 minutes to get a shot. Fire and ambulance have to fight traffic, and 10 minutes isn’t very long. It’s kind of a scary situation.”