A hive of Africanized bees attacked and killed a Central Texas man about noon Saturday and injured a woman who was trying to help him.
McLennan County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon identified the man as Larry Goodwin and said the incident occurred on his family’s land in the 1200 block of Old Country Road in Moody.
Goodwin was driving a tractor and apparently hit a pile of wood containing a discarded chicken coop that concealed a year-old hive of Africanized bees, said Allen Miller, owner of Bees Be Gone, who was called to remove the hive. Miller said he destroyed the hive, which contained 22 honeycombs and an estimated 40,000 bees, and returned later to find another 100 or so bees in a bucket near the first hive.
Cawthon said Goodwin was able to run from the tractor to the nearest house, about 50 yards away, and turn a garden hose on himself. A woman ran out of the house and tried to help Goodwin, and she also was attacked by the bees. The Moody Volunteer Fire Department responded to a 9-1-1 call from onlookers, and several firefighters also were stung.
Goodwin was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman, whose identity was not known, was taken to a hospital in apparently serious condition, Cawthon said.
“We need to let people know these bees are in the area and tell children in particular not to disturb or irritate the hives,” he said.
Miller said he had cleared out six hives of Africanized bees in the McLennan County area this spring.
“You can’t believe how bad they are. They make me want to get out of this business,” he said. “They can get up under your clothes where no other insect can go. In a hive of ordinary European bees, about 10 percent will attack if the hive is threatened, but with African bees, all of them attack you.”
Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager said he could recall about three bee attacks a year for the past several years, but no fatalities.
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service website says the ferocious African bees were brought from Africa to Brazil in 1957. Some escaped and mated with European bees, first in Latin America and then the southern United States.
According to the site, eight people have been killed by the bees since 1990. Africanized bees look like European bees but build hives in many places ignored by European bees, including the ground, tree cavities and walls of houses.
The impulse to sting is 10 times greater in the Africanized hybrids, according to the website. They will follow victims up to a quarter of a mile, and they will remain aggressive up to 24 hours after an initial attack.
Unlike European bees, Africanized bees can be provoked by loud noises, vibrations of motors or pedestrian activity up to 50 feet from the hive.
Eight to 10 stings per pound of body weight are generally regarded as lethal, the website says, but 100 stings are considered dangerous. Africanized bees have the same venom as European bees, so the same allergies apply. They are attracted to hair, dark colors, newly mown grass, citrus-scented candles and perfume.
To discourage the bees from building a hive, the website advises eliminating access to water where possible, plugging holes in buildings and pipes and keeping property clear of refuse and abandoned vehicles.