State agriculture officials are trying
to determine if a swarm of bees that attacked an 81-year-old man
and killed his pet dog are Africanized honey bees, commonly known
as killer bees.
State Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell said his department
is investigating Thursday's attack on Taylor Avenue. The dog
appeared to have been stung nearly 1,000 times and Robert Cherry
was stung numerous times when he came to his pet's aid.
The bees were living in Cherry's garage wall and became agitated
and attacked Cherry's Beagle, Theo, according to Cherry's daughter,
Cherry tried to save his dog but sustained five to six stings.
He was suffering a low-grade fever Thursday, but has been
Pascagoula Animal Control Supervisor Ed Holmes said when
officers arrived, they were ill-equipped to deal with the bees and
rescue Theo from his kennel area. The dog, Holmes added, was
covered with bees and may have sustained more than 1,000 stings.
Joey Moesch of Southern Pest Control was called to remove the
bees. Morie said Moesch donned a firefighter's uniform and entered
the fenced area where Theo was and tried to save the dog.
Moesch was able to pull Theo to a clear area, and firefighters
sprayed him and Theo with extinguishers to remove the bees, Holmes
Southern Pest Control personnel exterminated the bees. Spell's
department said that 100 samples of the bees were collected. Their
DNA will be tested at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
laboratory to determine if they are Africanized.
As a precaution, the state Department of Agriculture is
conducting bee screening and trapping in the immediate area of the
Taylor Avenue swarm to catch other swarms to determine if any
threat of Africanized honey bees exists to the public, Spell's news
The highly aggressive Africanized bees have already been found
in several southern states, but this is would be one of the first
known attacks in Mississippi.
They are known as "killer bees" because they are easily
provoked, attack in far greater numbers than docile domestic bees
and will chase intruders for up to a quarter of a mile, a lot
further than honey bees.
The killer bees were created when a researcher in Brazil mated
European bees - the traditional honey bees found in North America -
with bees from southern Africa, hoping to produce a hybrid that was
more tolerant of the tropics. The resulting queens were more
aggressive and 26 of them were released in 1957. They bred with
European bees, producing the aggressive hybrid known as killer bees
which spread northward and arrived in Texas in 1990. They have also