California street shut down after 40,000 bees swarm from hotel

Jessica Glenza

A swarm of as many as 40,000 Africanized bees sent several people to hospital and closed a street in California, after swarming from the eaves of a Howard Johnson Inn.

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Police and firefighters were called to the scene after a report about a bee sting on a boulevard in Pasadena on Wednesday evening. Two firefighters, two police officers and one civilian ended up at hospital after being stung.

“Something set them off, some activity, noise, vibration … it’s hard to tell what,” Dave Williams of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association told local television station KTLA.

“We have firefighters who have been working here for many, many years, and they said this is by far the most bees they’ve seen at one location,” a Pasadena fire department spokeswoman, Lisa Derderian, told the Los Angeles Times.

Africanized bees are descended from a cross-breed between African and European bees that was introduced in South America in the 1950s but which escaped and proliferated, breeding with local species. Due to their habit of aggressively defending their nests, the insects have acquired an familiar nickname: killer bees.

In Pasadena, police and firefighters first tried to calm the bees with smoke, then used fire extinguishing foam to kill the bees after they failed to calm down.

“We don’t like to kill bees, we’re beekeepers,” Williams told KTLA. “But in a situation like this, where the public safety is of concern, we have to take care of the public.”