A 76-year-old man was hospitalized early Thursday when he was stung at least 220 times by a swarm of bees.
The man’s wife was also stung about 60 times, and the family dog, a Chihuahua, died from multiple bee stings, according to the couple’s daughter.
Emergency responders were called at 8:30 a.m. to the 27000 block of Iowa Gardens Road, where they found Tiburcio Ramirez trying to escape a swarm of bees, according to Boris Esparza, San Benito Fire Department acting captain.
Ramirez was stabilized in the hospital emergency room, Valley Baptist Medical Center spokeswoman Teri Retana said. He was later admitted to the intensive care unit.
A South Texas Emergency Care ambulance was on the scene when firefighters arrived, Esparza said.
“We immediately proceeded to put soapy water on the gentleman,” Esparza said.
Chemicals in a solution of soapy water kills bees.
Once the bees were dispersed, the EMS crew began treatment, Esparza said.
Ramirez’s daughter, Claina Gonzalez, lives in another house on the property, and said her father was cutting the grass with a lawn tractor when the bees swarmed and began to sting him.
She said he ran to the house for help, but did not go inside because his grandchildren were there and he didn’t want the bees to follow him.
“My mom said that he was yelling, yelling, yelling to help him, so she went outside without the babies,” Gonzalez said. “She tried to help him but she got (the bees) all on her body, too.”
Her mother, Consuelo Ramirez, 56, called 911 from a neighbor’s house, she said.
The neighbor, Maria Juarez, said she was making breakfast when she heard a scream.
“We opened the door and the woman came in covered in bees,” Juarez said in Spanish. “My son told her to drop to the ground and roll around, and we started to spray (insecticide) on the bees, but the bees kept coming.”
She added, “Poor woman. We managed to kill the bees and then she came inside. We killed like 200 bees.”
The bee stings are a concern to Gonzalez and her family because her father had a heart attack two years ago, and later had bypass surgery.
“We were worried not just because of the (bee) stings, but also because of his heart,” she said.
Her mother refused treatment because she does not have insurance, Gonzalez said. The family was told that her mother will be all right. More than 75 stings would be a concern.
STEC patient transport director Rene Perez described the scene at the bee attack when the ambulance arrived, with the Ramirez couple stung multiple times.
The EMS crew watched the firefighters combat the bees, which according to Perez numbered in the thousands.
Even though they were about 200 feet away from the swarming bees, the aggressive insects were pursuing the EMS crew, he said. Firefighters said the bees appeared to be coming from a second floor wall.
The family has battled the bees for several years, Gonzalez said.
“(The bees) are behind the house; they are in the roof. We have tried to kill them,” she said. “Everything we have had to do, we have done it. Nothing helps, they come back. They keep coming; they keep coming.”
She said the bees have been a problem for at least three years.
“I don’t know how we are going to get rid of so many bees,” Gonzalez said.
Her father is likely to remain in the hospital for about two days, she said, but the family can’t return home at this time. Not until the bees are removed. As of Thursday evening, the bees were still buzzing around the property.
Valley Morning Star reporter Travis Whitehead contributed to this report.