While Ralph St. Peter described it as a cartoon, some would say it was more like a horror movie. A swarm of angry bees stung the 44-year-old tree trimmer as he was removing an old tree in Safety Harbor, Florida.
"It was horrible. I had to keep my hands over my eyes," St. Peter said. "I'm trying to tell the guys on the ground what to do, but every time I'd open my mouth my mouth would get full of bees and I'd have to spit more bees out."
St. Peter was rushed to the hospital. Doctors, nurses, and even his wife plucked 500 stingers from head-to-toe.
St. Peter was believed to have been stung by Africanized bees, but beekeeper Jonathan Fisher says it is too early to tell.
"To determine what type of bee they are, you have to actually send the bees to Tallahassee," said Fisher. "They actually do genetic testing on them."
Fisher says it doesn't take much for a bee attack to turn deadly.
"It varies on the human being," said Fisher. "If someone is allergic to stings it could only take one sting."
Alex Delarosa removes beehives for a living and says loud noise will trigger an attack; so can a human scent released during a bee sting. Experts say it is like a pheromone alarm, telling the colony they are under attack.
"If they smell the pheromone, it's like a target," explained Delarosa. "They could smell it and if the hive is nearby most of the time … the whole hive will come after you."
While no one wants to ever be attacked by a swarm of bees, Fisher hopes the public respects and remembers how important bees are to our ecosystem.
"We've got to have them to [pollinate]," said Fisher, "and of course everybody loves the honey."
The best ways to avoid a bee attack include heading for indoor shelter, staying out of water because bees will wait until a person comes up for air, and never swatting at the bees, which just makes them angrier.