Safety Tips: 10 things to do if you encounter a swarm of killer bees

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Africanized bee (credit: Thiago Gama Oliver)

Africanized bee (credit: Thiago Gama Oliver)

Florida Vacation Guide to protecting yourself against killer bees

The odds of you being attacked by killer bees on your Florida vacation aren’t great, so you needn’t be alarmed. But you should know that there have been some reports of these Africanized bees in Florida.

Africanized or killer bees don’t really look different than European bees but they are much more dangerous because of how aggressive they are. These killer bees are very easily provoked, quick to swarm and they attack in very high numbers. They also are quite persistent. Killer bees will chase you for up to a quarter mile.

There have been reports of killer bees being spotted along the Pinellas Trail, so take care if you see a colony. Remember that these African honey bees are not waiting in the shadows to sting you. They sting to defend their nests.

If you find yourself near a swarm of aggressive killer bees, here’s what to do:

1. Run. Run as fast as you possibly can. The longer you stick around, waiting to see what happens, the more bees you can expect to come out, ready to sting.

2. Cover your head if possible, taking care to protect your face.

3. Get inside. Whether it’s a shed or a car, it doesn’t matter. Close the doors and windows to prevent the bees from following you in.

4. Keep running if you can’t find shelter.

5. Know that playing dead is not going to work. Keep running even if the bees are stinging.

6. Contrary to what you see in cartoons, jumping in a pool or a lake won’t prevent you from being stung. The bees will wait for you to surface to sting you.

7. Don’t wave or swat at the bees to fend them off because it makes you look like more of a threat.

8. If you have someone with you who can’t outrun the bees, try to cover them with something and run as fast as you can to get help.

9. Scrape the stingers out of your skin if you’ve been stung because the stinger is removed from the bee’s body along with a sac of venom that will keep pumping poison into your body.

10. Use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling and monitor yourself for any adverse reaction. If you’ve suffered multiple stings, get yourself to the hospital.

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