TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A man in Okeechobee County died after being stung more than 100 times by bees that officials think were Africanized honey bees, state agriculture officials said.
The man had a fatal reaction to the bee stings, which aren't always fatal, medical officials said.
If the tests are confirmed, it would be the first death in Florida caused by the aggressive bees, according to the Florida Department of Agricultre, although there have been at least 17 deaths caused by the bees across the United States since 1990.
The victim's name wasn't released.
Africanized bee stings are no more potent than an ordinary bee stings, but the bees are far more aggressive and attack in swarms. Experts say they have been in Florida since 2002, and there have been a few reports about swarms of the bees attacking people.
Officials at the Florida Department of Agriculture said the man was stung April 9 in rural northwestern Okeechobee County as he was trying to dismantle a trailer. Witnesses told officials that the man knew there was a nest of bees on the trailer.
The bee colony was later destroyed by state officials.
Bee experts say the swarms don't fly around seeking to attack people. They do react aggressively, however, when disturbed by people or animals, such as when someone pokes at their nest.
Agriculture officials said people should stay away from bee nests and shouldn't try to remove nests themselves. If they're chased by a swarm of bees, people should run until they can get inside.
Officials also said that most wasp and hornet sprays shouldn't be used on bee nests. While they can kill the bees, they also cause the release of a pheromone that stimulates the rest of the colony to attack.