Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page

Text and Photos ©2013 by J. Pint

Non-Toxic BeeAlert wards off Killer Bee attacks
Non-toxic BeeAlert stops Africanized bee attacks instantly, allowing victims and/or rescuers time to escape to safety. The inventor of BeeAlert, Will Baird of Houston Texas is looking for distributors of the product in Mexico.

How to deal with an attack of Africanized bees

 Author John Pint shows what he carries into the woods "just in case of a bee attack." For lots of  tips, see What to Do About Mexican Killer Bees

Do bees sleep? Will they attack you underground?

Would bees attack clever speleologists who slip into the cave in the middle of the night?  Find out here.


Caves beneath the dunes? Check out our Saudicaves page:








By John Pint

Headlines re Bee attacks in the USA and MexicoGuadalajara, Mexico, May 29, 2013.

During a walk in the woods last week, the subject of Africanized bees came up. I asked my fellow hikers what was the worst bee attack they had ever heard about. Veteran excursionista Mario Guerrero responded, “Without a doubt, it was the death of Enedino Luna.” Luna, he explained, had been a guide and trainer for Grupo Colli,  the most active organization for hiking and camping here in Guadalajara, Mexcio. Approximately 12 years ago, Luna took a group of young climbers into the hills near Magdalena to practice rappelling. “He stood on the edge of a cliff supervising the descent of the others. Somehow the rappellers disturbed a hive of bees on the way down and were immediately attacked. They responded by sliding down the rope even faster, and managed to reach the bottom and escape. Unfortunately, the bees also swarmed upwards, discovered Enedino Luna at the top of the drop and totally engulfed him.”

Luna died from the great amount of stings he suffered and later an autopsy was performed on his body. “They found Enedino’s stomach full of bees,” my informant reported.

Trying to find out if “killer bee” attacks are still a problem in Mexico, I searched the web and discovered all sorts of recent stories.

I learned that just a few weeks ago bees attacked two adults and two small children near a hotel in downtown Cancun. The people survived, but, curiously, the bees managed to kill a large number of pigeons.

Last August in Navojoa, an eight-year-old boy died and three friends were badly hurt when bees swarmed all over them atop a water tank. One child saved himself by jumping into the water, but firemen trying to rescue him had to retreat because of the ferocity of the attack.

In 2011, a 63-year-old man was killed by bees near Los Mochis, while two campesinos in Villahermosa were attacked while cycling across a bridge and ended up "nearly dead" in a local hospital. Meanwhile in Veracruz, a 72-year-old tourist guide died when a swarm of bees overwhelmed him and ten tourists during a visit to a cave famed for its petroglyphs.

Perhaps the most curious event took place in Chiapas, where 70 policemen were hospitalized when Africanized bees interrupted their target practice. The police found their guns useless against the bees, threw them to the ground and ran for their lives.

Closer to home, more than 20 people were hospitalized in Uruapan, Michoacan when bees attacked Electric Company workers who were trying to take down a hollow tree. Numerous passersby and motorists were also attacked. Curiously, three of the people who ended up in the hospital were firemen who had been called in to control the attack.

I mentioned some of these incidents to Engineer Francisco Javier Pineda, a member of a special committee which was set up back in 1991 to control Africanized bees in Metro Guadalajara. “Yes,” he said, “in rural areas there are plenty of cases like those you described, but do you have any idea how many bee attacks we have right here inside the city of Guadalajara?”

Well, I had always considered Killer Bees a country problem. “Er, maybe 50 a year?” I ventured.

To my surprise, Engineer Pineda replied that Guadalajara has from 200 to 300 attacks per month, necessitating speedy and well-coordinated responses on the part of Protección Civil, Police, Firemen, Red Cross and other agencies. Just how speedy this response might be is not clear. When Paul King of Guadalajara discovered a bee hive in a tree in his back yard, he immediately called Protección Civil, but they never showed up. King finally had to call a fumigator, whose manner of resolving the problem was to kill all the bees. “On another occasion,” adds King, “I called Protección Civil on a holiday and got no reply throughout the entire day.”

Curious as to whether such incidents are also happening in the USA (where Africanized bees arrived at the turn of the century) I discovered that less than a month ago a Florida man bathing his dog was attacked by bees which apparently didn’t like the smell of the shampoo the man was using. The dog owner first tried to fight off the bees with his garden hose, to no avail. “The bees started swarming down and they just covered my face,” said Robert Denmark, 65. The only way I got them off me was I lit a fire.” Denmark was stung again and again in the face, but survived. Not so fortunate was his 80 pound Rottweiler, which was rushed to the vet, but nevertheless died.

Non-toxic BeeAlert stops bee attacks in a minuteSome time ago I reported  that a Texan had invented a simple solution for warding off attacks of bees like those mentioned above. Will Baird of Houston lost a good friend to an Africanized Bee attack in 2004 and thereafter began research on how to halt bee attacks while doing the least damage to the victims, the environment and to the bees themselves. His solution was BeeAlert, a harmless, non-toxic spray. You aim the spray straight upward and as it falls back down, it creates a “halo” around you…and the victims. Because the spray interferes with the bees’ breathing, those who enter the “halo” immediately signal the swarm that this place is dangerous and the cloud of bees moves upward and away, ending the attack and allowing the victims time to escape. It took Baird years to perfect what he calls “The BeeAlert Stinging Insect Control System” and only recently has he begun distributing the spray in the USA. “I am looking for a distributor for Mexico,” says Baird, “and I hope BeeAlert will soon be available all over the country.”

Africanized bees become upset much more easily than normal honeybees. In a city you can always call 911 in the States or 066 in Mexico, but if you plan to take a walk in the country, what can you do to minimize the danger of a bee attack?

For one thing, you can avoid wearing colors that infuriate them, such as black and brown as well as bright and shiny jewelry or objects. In addition, don’t use perfumes, perfumed deodorants or anything that smells lemony. Loud noise also sets them off, especially the sound and vibrations of tractors and bulldozers.

If you are walking, your best protection is your hearing. If you keep your ears open, you can usually hear the hum of a hive before you walk into the “hot zone” and you should immediately backtrack.

If bees come after you and you’re in a flat area, you may be able to escape simply by outrunning them. Head upwind, if possible. As for jumping into water, some people have saved themselves in this way, but others say the bees just hang around waiting until you surface.

If you are stung, use a credit card to remove the stings. In this way, you can avoid squeezing them, because each sting contains poison and continues to pump it into your body even after the bee is dead. An antihistamine like Avapena (available in any Mexican pharmacy) can give you an extra hour to get to a hospital.

Of course, the ideal would be to carry a can of BeeAlert in your vehicle or backpack. Let’s hope Will Baird’s invention will soon be available in Mexico, where it is definitely needed, because, as Baird says, “The Africanized Honeybee is here to stay.”

For more information on this subject, check out “What to Do About Mexican Killer Bees.”


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