Ahwatukee Foothills resident Kristy Nied Jozwiak said it was like something out of a movie when her landscaper was attacked by Africanized bees in her backyard.
On April 21 her usual landscaper was doing some work in the backyard. He was using a Weed Eater while his kids helped pick weeds.
“I was unloading groceries and watching them in the backyard and suddenly I saw the father throw his equipment into the air, his sunglasses fell off and all I saw was black,” Jozwiak said. “He was screaming and there were just tons of bees attacking him and stinging him. I didn’t know what to do. I had never seen anything like that before. I felt so helpless.”
Not able to leave the inside of their home, Jozwiak said she yelled for the landscaper to jump into the pool to get some relief. Her husband jumped into the car to go to Ace Hardware to try to find something to help while Kristy ran to the nearest drug store to get some Benadryl for the man.
When the Jozwiaks returned home they found their landscaper and his family had made it into their car but the bees had followed them.
“At that point we had hundreds if not thousands of these bees really upset in our front yard and our backyard,” she said. “I ran into the house, gave them towels, but bees were trying to get into their vehicle and attacking me. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
The landscapers drove away to seek medical attention and Jozwiak began investigating bee removal services. After calling several companies she found a company that could respond quickly but when they arrived they found that the hive wasn’t actually in the Jozwiak’s yard but was on the back wall of their neighbor’s yard.
The neighbor refused the help of the bee removal service, believing he could take care of the problem himself, Jozwiak said.
“His yard is on a slope so he was actually further from the hive than we were,” she said. “I don’t think he understood the severity of the situation.”
Jozwiak called the police, the fire department, Maricopa County Vector Control and even the homeowners association, but no one could help take care of the bees. On April 23 the neighbor hired a service and the bees were killed with a strong chemical spray. On April 24 the hive was officially removed.
“I got the sense that in this area it’s not uncommon to come across bees,” Joviak said. “In our situation the hive had apparently been there for some time and hadn’t been an issue or hadn’t been irritated. I just want residents to know if they encounter a situation like this to know what to do.”
Rick Heicksen, area manager for AAA Africanized Bee Removal Specialists, Inc., said the reasons bees attack can vary, but that how people respond is important.
“The most important thing is if you see any bee activity by a structure or in a tree contact someone immediately before it gets worse,” he said. “Don’t try to take care of the bees or spray the bees yourself. If you’re being swarmed by bees or attacked by bees get into a vehicle or into a house immediately. Never jump into a pool or the water, the bees will hover above and wait.”
Heicksen said all wild bees in Arizona are African bees. They’re very territorial and the level of aggression gets worse if the hive is larger. They are disrupted by ground vibrations from landscapers, perfume, bright colors or dark colors. Bees also detect possible predators through carbon monoxide so they commonly aim for the face of those they feel threatened by.
Heicksen said AAA Africanized Bee Removal Specialists can get anywhere from 60 to 130 calls per day. Their company serves all of the Phoenix Metro area and Tucson. For immediate assistance, call (602) 670-2222 or visit www.aaabeeremoval.com.
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