What To Do If Attacked by a Swarm of Bees

Looks harmless enough, right?

Looks harmless enough, right?

I did lot of hiking this last winter in preparation for my Boy Scout troop’s 20-mile hike that we completed about three weeks ago. Some of the risks while hiking in Arizona, and magnified if you’re alone, include:

  • bear attacks
  • rabid animal attacks
  • mountain lion attacks
  • rattlesnake bites
  • gila monster bites
  • scorpion stings
  • dehydration
  • injuries from a fall
  • hypothermia
  • hyperthermia
  • getting hopelessly lost

Taking into account where I hike and the type of hiking I do, my biggest concern this time of year is attack by a swarm of Africanized honey bees. Even if you”re not allergic to bee stings, they can kill you if you get enough stings.

We had one of these swarms in our front yard last year for several weeks

We had one of these swarms in our front yard last year for several weeks

A favorite hike of mine is Pinnacle Peak trail, which is only a 15-minute walk from my front door. A hiker got stung 50 times there a few days ago. It takes many hundreds of stings to kill an adult, probably in the range of 100 stings per 10 lb of body weight.

If I’m attacked by a swarm, my plan is to run as fast as I can for at least a quarter mile before stopping. I’m dropping anything that could slow me down. If I can duck a car or building before my quarter-mile is up, I’ll do it.

If you kill bees by swatting them, it releases chemicals that further inflame the swarm. I doubt I’d have the self-control to not slap bees stinging me.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I’ve lived in Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida, but don’t recall them having this problem.


4 responses to “What To Do If Attacked by a Swarm of Bees

  1. North of the 49th, our bees are friendly as many of its two legged creatures.

  2. Good tip; I would expect to run; now to get in shape enough to run a quarter mile! I live in Central FL now and haven’t seen as many bees lately as were here when the place was full of citrus trees…