Swarm Of 40,000 Bees Attacked Pasadena Police Responding To Report Of Single Bee Sting

by : Cameron Frew on : 22 Feb 2020 17:40

A swarm of 40,000 Africanised bees attacked first responders at the scene of a single bee sting. 


The buzzing onslaught took place at the Hampton Inn in Pasadena on Thursday afternoon, February 20, when firefighters and police officers arrived following a single sting report.

However, one sting soon turned into multiple for the poor sods who arrived, as it appears the first bee’s pals arrived as back-up, flooding into the area and causing chaos.

Lisa Derderian, Pasadena Fire Department Public Information Officer, told CNN: ‘I’ve been with the fire department 18 years now and responded to several bee incidents. But never to this magnitude.’


As a result of the swarm, seven people were stung, with two people being rushed to hospital according to authorities. However, the first firefighter who arrived on the scene bore the brunt of the worst attacks, leaving the area with 17 stings. They soon realised that the bees had covered the entire block.

Derderian added: ‘Somebody could have had an allergic reaction and it could have been serious and or fatal.’

Bee Hive in PasadenaBee Hive in PasadenaABC7

Firefighters and a professional beekeeper later climbed a ladder to remove the hive, which was on the roof of the four-story building. They sprayed the bees with Co2 and foam extinguishers before the beekeeper removed the hive so the bees wouldn’t return to the area. Some bees were killed in the incident, while others left the area when the sun went down.

Africanised honey bees have long been referred to as ‘killer bees’ – over the past 50 years, they have killed several hundred people. However, unlike the devils of the sky (also known as wasps), the bees aren’t aggressive. Rather, they’re defensive – in 1982, researchers wrote: ‘Africanized bees respond to colony disturbance more quickly, in greater numbers, and with more stinging.’


The BBC reported that without the debilitation of an allergic reaction, it would take around 1,000 bee stings to deliver a lethal dose of toxin to an average-sized adult. However, it’s misleading to purport that Africanised bees are out for blood.

Bert Rivera-Marchand, an entomologist at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico in Bayamón, explained: 


The term gives the impression that these bees are out to kill, when they are actually defending their hive. Regardless of how defensive a hive may be, foraging bees in the field do not attack and there is no aggression seen during swarming events.

Bees are actually absolutely crucial to the planet – they are one of the most essential pollinators, buzzing between crops like tomatoes, blueberries, and squash. Despite incidents such as this, they must be protected.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Bees, Firefighters, Insects, Pasadena, Police


CNN and 3 others
  1. CNN

    A swarm of nearly 40,000 bees attacked police responding to a single bee sting report

  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Colony Defense by Africanized and European Honey Bees

  3. BBC

    Are 'killer' Africanized bees really that dangerous?

  4. ABC7

    2 firefighters, 1 officer among multiple stung by bee swarm in Pasadena