PASADENA (CBSLA) — An influx of bees near a hive in Pasadena left at least five people hospitalized for multiple stings, including two firefighters and a police officer.
The Pasadena Fire Department responded to calls of an “animal bite” on Colorado Boulevard between South Bonnie Avenue and North Sierra Bonita Avenue, not knowing it was a swarm of bees, according to CBSLA’s Laurie Perez.
Crews used a fire extinguisher on the hive located in the roof corner of a four-story Howard Johnson Hotel near Pasadena City College. Hotel staff and guests had to shelter in place and Pasadena City College closed their side entrances and kept students from that side of campus.
They later used a water hose pointed at the hive to try and slow the bee activity.
A local beekeeper, David Williams, who arrived to help the firefighters said there were around 20 thousand bees in the swarm.
“The police officers and firefighters were getting stung,” Williams said. “The firefighters that were up on the ladder dealing with it initially were probably getting 15 or more stings.”
Had firefighters known they were responding to a swarm of bees, they would have worn special protected hoods. Instead, they were unprotected against what Williams said were most likely Africanized Honey Bees based on their aggression and how many were attacking.
Williams said that the volume of bees, as well as the persistence of the attack, indicated that it could be an Africanized hive.
“Normally bees will defend their colony within about a 50-foot radius,” he said. “When it gets outside that, it’s a hyper-defensive reaction.”
Based on the number of bees, William said the colony was likely there for at least a year and may have become agitated by the smoke from a small fire nearby. An exterminator was expected to remove the rest of the nest. According to Williams, there may be between 40 and 50 thousand bees remaining inside.
Colorado Boulevard was temporarily closed in both directions and people were being cautioned away from the area.