On July 21st, Tennesseans were alerted of a horrific incident involving a Wilson county home owner and her two dogs.
On July 18th 2010 , Susan Garner of Lebanon Tennessee, described a horrifying scene, in witnessing a brutal attack on her two beloved family
pets. Our dogs are much more than pets to us, they are family members with much significance.
They are so sweet and dear to our hearts. I can't imagine the shock and heartbreak of this poor family's suffering,
in viewing this terrifying event. Susan had brought her two dogs out into the backyard,
first hooking up "Katie" her 7 year old, 125 lb Chocolate Labrador to a long zip line and then released "Petey"
a small Boston terrier out into the backyard. As she explained to me, the day couldn't have been better.
The sky was blue, not a bug in sight, not even a mosquito in the air.
She said she filled up their little pool and let the dogs have fun, splashing, running and enjoying their playtime as she had done for so many
years. After about two hours, Susan had decided to go into the home for a drink of water and to check for telephone messages.
Between the time she left and no more than five minutes later, something terribly went wrong.
As She described to me, this shocking event started with the "sounds of war" coming from the backyard.
Hearing her animals crying and screaming, she thought for sure another dog had come on to her property and was trying to kill her dogs.
She then, in panic; began to run to the door only to view in horror, her beloved Katie completely overwhelmed in a swarm of honeybees.
In this horrifying instance, she didn't know how to react. What do you when something like happens?
Her first instinct was to scream and holler and look for help. Her husband was upstairs and couldn't hear his wife's plea for help.
He was completely unaware of the horrific scene taking place outside his window. The neighbors said they never heard a thing.
Susan told me her screams fell on deaf ears. She was so desperate and frantic that her throat was sore for weeks after the incident.
Being desperate to save Katie's life, and in despite of her apparent fear, boldly, she ran right into the lions mouth.
The bees began to swarm all around her, gathering about her face, clothing and hair.
Susan released Katie from the line that kept her captive, and in a desperate flea.
Susan begins to run closer to the garden hose at the edge of the home in hopes to remove the stingers to relieve her Katie's suffering.
But the entire event was too overwhelming for any creature to endure. Sadly enough, after thousands of stings,
Katie's body finally succumbed to the venom and collapsed before reaching the side of the home.
As described by Susan, the dog had so many stingers, that Katie's body had looked as though she had been snowed on.
Just terrifying. Although, Susan tried to remove all the stingers with a garden hose,
poor Katie went into shock and died on the lawn. By then,
Susan's husband had ran into the swarm to rescue little Petey .And even though the family tried their best to save the surviving animals life.
Little Petey died from his wounds 3 days later and a feral cat was found dead under the Garners porch.
This is such an awful and horrific incident. I personally sent my condolences to the Garner family.
The State Apiarist, Michael D. Studer, A bee specialist for the state of Tennessee Department of Agriculture was called in to inspect the
address after the incident to investigate what could have terribly gone wrong here.
Mike is trying to understand the "how's" and "why's" of what could have happened.
Mike captured the swarm, and sent bee samples out for examination and DNA testing. "We have many concerns here",
as residents of the state. I felt the news did not go far enough to address our concerns.
With much curiosity and concern for "Me Tennessee" I called Mikes office and gratefully,
I was given an hour and a half of his time. Mike understands bees better than anyone and he had many questions as well.
I asked How could this have happened, He stated "This may never been explained."
The State of Tennessee sent some of the bee samples for DNA testing to the USDA Tucson Arizona Bee lab and State of Florida Bee lab.
The Testing came back negative, 98% European and 2% Africanized and is not considered to be Africanized.
Tennessee has never found Africanized bees in our state. Mike told me this is an expectable level of Africanized DNA.
The State of Tennessee expects some Africanized DNA because our state beekeepers still imports some of their bees from
Texas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. Texas, Florida and Louisiana have verified Africanized bee colonies.
This is a concern. Ideally, Mike would like to see Tennessee breed their own queens and supply
their own bee packages so we simply don't have to worry about any accidental invasions that are sure to come over time.
As long as Tennessee beekeepers import bees from other states that are known to have Africanized colonies,
we are playing Russian roulette with nature. As I was told, there is no benefit at all to Africanized honeybees.
The Scientist who originally led the research behind the Africanized invasion wanted to breed the
African honeybees as a benefit to tropical regions. The idea was, to take an African honeybee,
which can tolerate hot weather, swarm more, but produce smaller colonies and genetically mix them with the calmer more docile
European honeybees, which swarm less, produce larger colonies and cannot withstand the tropics, thus creating a new hybrid honeybee,
that would swarms more, with larger colonies, spreading more rapidly to produce more productive bees in tropical climates.
Dr Warwick Estevam Kerr had gone to Africa to collect the honeybee queens for his study. He was very careful and mindful to select only queens
from the most docile and calmer colonies. Apparently he left the queens in quarantine too long and all of his originally selected queens had
died. Then Dr Kerr asked other project colleagues to go to Tanzania and recollect more queens. Kerr's entrusted faith was insulted, as his
colleagues ignored his warnings to collect only queens from calmer, more docile colonies.
The sloppy collection, proved to be a terrible mistake and a crime to nature and humanity.
In 1957, some of the original Africanized bees had escaped from the project.
This caused the Africanized bees to breed into European colonies and it has been spreading rapidly ever since.
The Migration started northward from Brazil and now their invading the lower part of the United States.
In regards to poor Katie, I was told this was strange behavior no matter what type of bees.
When honeybee's swarm, they are searching for a new home and have nothing to defend.
The queen lays all of her eggs so she will be light enough to travel .
Only 60% of the hive will travel with her. The bees will fill their little bellies with a three day supply of honey to survive the trip.
Normally, the only active bees in the swarm are scouts, and they are busy looking for a new home.
So in light of this, I asked Mike "What do you theorize happened with this gentle giant, Katie?,
As I was told by the Susan, Katie didn't even bark, was a good dog and was non aggressive in any way to anything.
Mike said he simply doesn't understand. Something had to have set the bees off. This was an obvious brutal attack.
In Theory, there were three suggestions.
1# The cat they had was a feral pet and could have climbed the tree, got attacked and fell, setting off the hive in the dogs running area.
2# The bees may have come down to drink from the dogs water dish and the dog may have snipped at them, causing a pheromone scent trial.
3# Susan had suggested, maybe the queen had landed on the zip line and was disturbed by the dogs rapid movement.
These are all very good reasons why this may have agitated the bees; however none of these theories' makes complete sense.
Katie was a dark, chocolate lab and her lovely dark coat didn't help the situation any.
Apparently bees don't like large dark animals. Dark colors in general are a trigger, especially black or red animals.
Red is a bad color, it is seen as black to bees. The bees see this in ultra violet colors. Bees see much different than we do.
Their eyes are built up of hundreds of facets similar to honey combs, so when they look at something,
they see thousands of tiny images instead of one like we see .Anything in dark shades could upset a bee under certain circumstances.
Pastels colors and light shades are much more acceptable and tolerated by bees.
This is why we see our beekeepers dressed in white. It is an acceptable color to bees and helps to keep the bees calm while a keeper works.
In the wild, bees are more likely to encounter animals with dark coats, attempting to attack and kill the colony.
Animals like badgers, skunks, raccoons and bears are just a few of the bee's natural predators.
All of these animals exhale carbon dioxide which is also considered to be a trigger.
Bananas can agitate a bee, yep, the scent of a banana is similar to the alarm pheromone.
Another trigger is rapid movement and swatting. It is not recommended at all.
If a bee lands on you and you are not a threat, more than likely the bee is attracted by the sweat from your body.
Mike says, let them walk on you, don't swat them, just relax. For me this is an alarming solution, but it is truly the best way to react.
If you have a bee in your face, the best thing to do is to bring your hand up slowly and gently to move him away from you or your face.
They will move. You can move him away with the palm of your hand. Even if they land on you, they're not going to sting you.
So how do I know if a honeybee is acting suspicious? Well there are a few things to note, Mike told me,
it is not normal for European honeybees to nest in the ground, he recently collected two colonies in Springfield Tennessee,
both of which he felt would test positive for Africanized honeybees. Neither did. This puzzled him,
as this is not normal behavior for our bees. European Honeybees enjoy large natural cavities off the ground.
Mike suggests, if you see a pile of bees somewhere don't mess with them.
If their living and colonizing in the ground you need to give him a call,
This is Not normal behavior for European honeybees and the state of Tennessee need to investigate this as it's a concern
for all residents and the department of agriculture. Especially if they're in a tree or a house.
Mike wants you to call him or your local agriculture extension. They should be able to furnish you with numbers of local bee keepers for you to
call, so someone can capture the swarm or remove the colony. It's best not to fool with colonies or swarms at all, however it is legal to kill
them if they're in a tree or in a home. If that is your recourse simply call a local exterminator to handle
such needs, never do this on your own.
Fooling with bees can be a deadly decision; it is measured, that a human or animal can only handle 10 stings per pound.
Just recently, our local sanitary attendant almost died from a single bee sting. Although it was not a honeybee, that is irrelevant.
Bee stings can be deadly to someone who is allergic. This man spotted the bee exiting a metal pipe and he got stung.
It took less than five minutes for him to begin to shiver and become numb, he said he experienced heat,
inching and his throat began to swell, and clearly this man was in trouble and decided to dial 911.
He was showing signs of anaphylactic shock. When the emergency crew arrived, they started an antihistamine drip immediately.
At the end of it all, his blood pressure had dropped to 89 over 60.
That was a scary situation for Gerry and we as his neighbors are very lucky to see him alive.
So even though this man never did anything to provoke the bee sting, it happened. Mike told me,
if you receive a lot of stings, even if you're feeling ok , You need to go to the hospital This is especially critical with 1000 stings or more.
Remember Susan's Little Box Terrier, Petey? He died three days later from organ failure.
Bee venom can be a serious poison and should never be taken lightly.
[caption id="attachment_177" align="alignleft" width="604" caption="Poor Katie Never seen It Coming, a Sad Goodbye"][/caption]
Bad for some ,but not for all. Some people can benefit from the venom and sting themselves every day. What?
Yep, Apitoxin is similar to snake venom and it is thought that 1% of people are highly allergic to it.
Some people with various bone and joint issues benefit from its complex protein properties.
People experiencing debilitating diseases can find new life using this technique.
The amazing honeybee just keeps surprising me, The bee venom Apitoxin ,is used as "Bee Venom Therapy" And It's a miracle to some people .
It is said to relieve such illnesses as , but not limited to Arthritis ,cancerous tumors,Gout,melanomas & carcinomas,Bursitis,bone
fractures,Tendinitis,herniated discs,Lyme Disease,surgical scars ,MS,internal scarring,Lupus,torn ligaments& tendons,Shingles,pulled muscles
& cramping,Bell's Palsy,numbness & poor circulation,Neuropathy,spasms,Sciatica,mood disorders,Carpal Tunnel,Fibromyalgia, Raynaud's
Disease,ALS Injuries ,Chronic Fatigue,ankles,shoulders,Psoriasis,knees,elbows,Eczema,hips,wrists,Asthma.
These folks can benefit from stinging themselves, sometimes up to 80 times a day.
In Nature, there always seems to be another side of the coin.
[caption id="attachment_176" align="alignright" width="340" caption="Petey was So small his Little body could not overcome the venom"][/caption]
Taking the bitter with the sweet, Susan Garner asked me to explain how to respond under a vicious attack, such as she experienced.
After speaking with Mike, the best reaction is to get yourself in an enclosed area as soon as possible.
A car or a home, somewhere that you can close everything up as fast as you can. Never jump in water,
although we haven't had a confirmed Africanized colony documented in Tennessee, Its possible.
If you're a beekeeper in Tennessee, its best to keep your colony clean. Do this by re-queening your colony every year,
although Tennessee does not have guidelines for beekeepers, Florida has some great ,no nonsense guidelines ,
requiring the" re-queening" of known European tested bees every year.
This makes good sense and can't hurt a thing. Nobody wants killer bees in our state so it's best to be preemptive especially knowing how
prolific the Africanized honeybees have been over the years. If you are a beekeeper, it's your responsibility to the community and to the state
of Tennessee to do the best you can to keep your colony clean.
So enclosing and in light of the Garners experience and Poor Katie's suffering; it's better to BEE safe than sorry.
So Bee Safe ......
Written By Fawn