This can’t be a good sign. While a beekeeper in Ceres, California, was taking honey from a hive, the bees attacked him, then swarmed to his neighbor’s house where they killed one pit bull, severely injured another and attacked the dogs’ owner. What caused them to kill — revenge for the honey, revenge for bee-debilitating pesticide use or revenge on the makers of Cheerio’s for spreading invasive plants under the “bee-friendly” guise?
According to local media reports, the attacks occurred on April 2nd when an unnamed beekeeper wearing protective (well, that’s what the label said) clothing began harvesting honey from a backyard hive. He estimated there were 4,200 bees in the hive. (For your next trivia event, 4,200 bees weighs three pounds.) The bees attacked the beekeeper with sufficient force that the protective clothing was not enough and he fled to an emergency room for sting relief.
The now-empowered bees decided not to follow the beekeeper but to spread their wrath elsewhere. The next victims were two pit bulls in a neighbor’s yard. In an unusual role reversal, the dogs’ owner tried to rescue the pit bulls, but was stung himself and one dog died from the attack.
At some point the Ceres Fire and Police Departments were called to the scene. They went house-to-house notifying residents to stay inside at least until dusk when the bees were expected to calm down and return to the hive. When the bees refused to cooperate, the hive was fumigated and a professional beekeeper removed it and the dead bees.
What caused the bees in the hive to attack a human taking their honey and kill a pit bull when the terrified humans ran away? Battalion Chief Rich Scola of the Ceres Fire Department offered this assessment:
For an unknown reason, unknown to him or to us, when he attempted to harvest the honey the bees became very aggressive.
Unknown? We humans can’t figure out how bees fly or navigate or work and think collectively, yet we’ve built billion-dollar businesses based on hauling them around the country to pollinate our own food crops (most of which aren’t native) while taking their own food (honey – also a lucrative business) but not taking responsibility for pesticides, pollution and whatever else has been killing bees for years.
Is saying the bees took revenge too anthropomorphic? If the amateur beekeeper was doing this for the bees, why was he taking honey and wearing protective clothing? One report said the bees were “euthanized.” For whose benefit?
Humans spend billions on ways to reduce stress. Maybe it’s time to do the same for bees … before it’s too late and they really do exact revenge.