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Killer Bees: Death of Texas Farmer Follows Tractor Hitting Hive

Image: Killer Bees: Death of Texas Farmer Follows Tractor Hitting Hive Examples of the Africanized killer bee.

By Clyde Hughes   |   Monday, 03 Jun 2013 08:52 AM

A 62-year-old Texas farmer died in a rare attack of Africanized killer bees while clearing a discarded chicken coop on his land near Waco, authorities said.

Larry Goodwin, of Moody, Texas, was driving a tractor and apparently hit a pile of wood containing the coop that concealed a year-old hive of Africanized bees, said Allen Miller, owner of Bees Be Gone, who was called to remove the hive.

Miller said he destroyed the hive, which contained 22 honeycombs and an estimated 40,000 bees, and returned later to find another 100 or so bees in a bucket near the first hive.

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McLennan County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Cawthon said Goodwin was able to run from the tractor to the nearest house, about 50 yards away, and turned a garden hose on himself. A woman ran out of the house and tried to help Goodwin, and she also was attacked by the bees.

The unidentified woman was taken to a hospital in apparently serious condition, Cawthon said.

Several firefighters from the Moody Volunteer Fire Department who responded to assist Goodwin were also stung, authorities said.

“We need to let people know these bees are in the area and tell children in particular not to disturb or irritate the hives,” Cathow said.

Frightened neighbors worried that the bees could be found other places in the area.

"Anywhere you think a bee's going to be, really take precaution if you have any doubt," said John Puckett, Goodwin's neighbor. "Call somebody or call the fire department out here and they'll check it out for you."

Miller said he had cleared out six hives of Africanized bees in the county this spring. He said killer bees, though, are still extremely rare.

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The Texas AgriLife Extension Service website says the bees were brought from Africa to Brazil in 1957. Some escaped and mated with European bees. Africanized killer bees have gradually spread northward through South America, Central America, and eastern Mexico, progressing roughly 200 miles per year. In 1990, the bees reached southern Texas, appeared in Arizona in 1993, and California in 1995.

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