This weekend's vicious attack on Tampa-area gardener Ralph St. Peter by a swarm of bees has Riptide wondering: How in hell does somebody get attacked by bees? More important, how do we keep their hellish fury from raining down on us?
The good news: "There are considerably fewer bee attacks than most people think," says Devorah Sklaroff from Miami's own Willie the Bee Man exterminators.
The bad news: "Attacks have grown more severe in the past year," she says.
So what can you do to steer clear of St. Peter's stinging fate? (Despite suffering from nearly 500 stings, St. Peter is OK and back on the job.)
This might seem like a no-brainer, but Sklaroff says a surprising number of people stand their ground and try to fight off the bees. That may fly if you're attacked by a few, paltry European bees, she says, but Africanized bees (often referred to as killer bees) swarm in the hundreds and can quickly sting a dog to death.
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4. Don't punch the bees
Flailing your arms just makes bees more upset and likely to sting.
3. Don't try to outsmart them
Sklaroff says many people dive into a swimming pool or lake to try to get away from bees, but Africanized bees in particular will just wait for you to resurface and then resume making your life a living hell.
2. Smoke or insect spray works, but not forever
Both smoke and insect spray can drive off a swarm of bees (smoke also puts them to sleep), but only for a while. If you hang around for more than five to seven minutes, they will come back like, well, a swarm of bees. If you find a beehive in your home, shed, or old car, call an exterminator.
1. Avoid locations ripe for ironic attacks
Bees have a keen sense of irony. St. Peter was stung while trimming a tree in Safety Harbor, Florida. Coincidence? We think not. If you happen to live in Tranquil Bay, Serenity Valley, or Secure Springs, be on the lookout.