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Bees Living Inside a Tree Attack and Kill a Texas Man

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Tony Maples Photography


Bees living inside a tree attacked two Texans on Monday, killing one and hospitalizing the other. Firefighters in Breckenridge, about 100 miles west of Fort West, responded to a bee attack on the afternoon of April 26. The Breckenridge Fire Department was dispatched to a home near Hubbard Creek Lane, and when they arrived they had to fight their way through an aggressive swarm to discover one man in cardiac arrest.

Thomas Hicks, 70, had been mowing his lawn when hundreds of bees attacked him. Hick’s wife Zoni was out shopping for groceries. She returned to discover her husband covered in bees and screaming. Zoni told reporters that her husband was so covered in the dangerous insects she couldn’t even see his head or his back. Hicks was stung many times and went into cardiac arrest. After dialing 9-1-1, Zoni performed CPR on her husband.

Bees Living Inside a Tree Attack and Kill a Texas Man

Photo: @shanti via Twenty20

When firefighters arrived, they treated Hicks with emergency care for over an hour, trying to save him, but in the end, they couldn’t bring him back. First responders ask that the family be kept in your prayers after this tragic loss.

Zoni Hicks was given protective gear by firefighters on the scene and escorted out of the house with the swarm still in the air. She had been repeatedly stung while helping her husband, and she received treatment at an area hospital and was released.

Bees Living Inside a Tree Attack and Kill a Texas Man

Photo: @TonyTheTigersSon via Twenty20

It’s unclear what type of bees attacked Hicks, but Africanized or killer bees are not uncommon in Texas. Extremely sensitive to sound, they can attack in a huge swarm, and enough venom from their stings can result in kidney failure. One sting releases a pheromone that signals the others to attack. During a certain cycle of the hive, such bees can be particularly aggressive. A beekeeper aided firefighters in discovering the location of the hive inside a tree. An estimated 60,000 bees were living in the tree, with four or five queen cells.

Be observant of any Africanized bees in your area and note that loud noises can set them off. If you suspect a hive of Africanized bees is in your area, call the authorities and let them know.