What began with a normal chore left a Texas man in the hospital recovering from a heart attack induced by 160 stings from Africanized bees.
Simon Poras was mowing his son-in-law’s yard in Manor, Texas, when he happened to look behind him and saw a cloud coming towards him. Poras explained to KXAN that the noise and vibration of his tractor lawnmower had disturbed a nearby beehive. The hive, which was located in a shed in the alley, was home to an estimated 250,000 bees, according to police.
After the swarm engulfed the 64-year-old man, he made multiple attempts to free himself. He jumped off the mower and ran, but the bees followed. He sprayed himself with the hose, but not even being doused with water deterred the attack. When he reached the gate to the house, he told KXAN, the bees were still all over him and he began to feel woozy.
His wife was able to get him inside the house and a friend called 911. Following the continuous drop in his heart rate, Poras suffered a heart attack, induced by the immense number of stings.
“I could see my wife saying something to me when I passed out, I was in a glaze, I thought I was in heaven already, I’m not going to lie,” Poras told KTBC.
At the hospital, first responders were able to stabilize him and now, about a week after the attack, he’s just glad to be alive.
“God blessed me for another day,” Poras told KTBC.
The owners of the shed are elderly and according to KXAN, had no idea that the hive was even there. On Tuesday, a bee removal service got rid of the hive. Tyler Lackey, who wore a bee suit during the removal, said the bees were “very aggressive.”
Africanized bees are commonly referred to as “killer bees” and attacks can be life-threatening because they behave differently from the European honey bee, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In contrast to other honeybees, which leave the colony to start a nest in a new location, known as “swarming,” about once a year, Africanized honeybees can swarm as often as every six weeks. More frequent swarms increase the possibility of a human coming in contact with the “killer” bees.
“Regardless of myths to the contrary, Africanized honey bees do not fly out in angry swarms to randomly attack unlucky victims,” the USDA clarified. “However, the AHB can become highly defensive in order to protect their hive or home.”
Another reason Africanized bees pose a greater danger to humans than European bees is that the radius of what they consider to be their “turf” is much larger. The USDA recommended maintaining a distance from the nest quivalent to the width of a four-lane highway.
Should a person encounter the bees, the USDA advises pulling their shirt over their head to protect their face and continue running until they’ve reached shelter or outrun the swarm.
“If you can’t escape, that’s when the fatalities occur,” Dr. May Berenbaum, a professor at the University of Illinois Department of Entomology, told CBS News.
Berenbaum added that the danger of Africanized bees isn’t that their venom is more lethal, it’s that the entire hive attacks when it feels threatened, causing more stings. In comparison, only about 10 percent of bees in a European beehive will attack in the same situation.
This isn’t the first Africanized bee attack that has occurred in Texas in September. On September 15, a couple wound up in the hospital after bees attacked them outside their home. Mary Roberts posted on Facebook that her husband, Vern, suffered up to 600 stings, which left him in the intensive care unit for multiple days. She herself was only stung 42 times, but she thanked God for rescuing them from “certain death.”
Following the recent attack on Poras, Manor police urged people to be cautious around sheds and other outdoor items that may have not been cleaned in a long time, as they could be home to a nest.