Six hospitalized after bee attack at Thomae park

HARLINGEN — Six people were hospitalized Sunday after a mass bee attack at Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park led to the stinging of dozens of park visitors.

All six people who were hospitalized have been released, Cameron County Parks Director Joe E. Vega said.

“The bees in this case were inside an informational kiosk, a wooden structure,” Vega said. “From the size of the honeycomb, it appeared to be a recently established hive.”

Bee attacks can occur anywhere in South Texas and parks officials at both the county and state level often post warnings about the possibility of attacks by aggressive African-European honeybee hybrids. The African bees were released in Brazil several decades ago, and have marched northward as they interbred with regular honeybees.

“At this time we still don’t know exactly what caused the bees to become aggressive,” Vega added. “What we do know is that during the spring bees tend to be more active and are often seen swarming and searching for a place to establish a hive.”

Vega said that prior to Sunday’s incident there had been no formal reports of any recent bee activity at the park.

“Last week during Texas Week, we experienced larger volumes of patrons in the park and did not have any bee-related incidents,” Vega said. “One very important thing to keep in mind is that the park is located on a wildlife refuge (Laguna Atascosa) and bees are constantly moving through the area.

“The best advice we can give to someone who encounters an area of elevated bee activity is to leave the area immediately and report it to the nearest park official,” Vega said.

In 2015, an agricultural worker who was trying to fix his tractor died following a bee attack near Rio Hondo.

Rogerio Zuniga, 54, apparently was working on his tractor when he was attacked by bees near a drainage ditch outside the small community of Lozano, authorities said.

In 2016, an elderly Mission man was critically injured in a bee attack.