Tree trimmer attacked by africanized bees released from hospital sunday

For the first time, a tree trimmer stung about 500 times by Africanized killer bees on Saturday described the attack.

He was working on a tree in the front yard of a home in Safety Harbor when he cut through a massive hive.

“This giant swarm just came directly at me. It’s like they knew who did it,” Ralph St. Peter explained.

St. Peter’s hands and face are still swollen. From head to toe, he’s covered in bee stings.

“Fireants. It would be the same as fireants,” St. Peter said, also comparing his attack to someone sticking a needle in him repeatedly all over his body.

Hours after being released from the hospital, St. Peter’s wife, Jenna, still had to pull out stingers.

“Kind of reminds me of a porcupine. You’re just pulling pins out of a pin cushion,” she said.

St. Peter, a veteran tree trimmer of 30 years, says he knew there were honey bees in the tree, but not the Africanized type, let alone the estimated 50,000 that swarmed him.

“Fear, nothing but fear,” he said when asked what he was thinking during the attack, “because I knew what they were. They were definitely killer bees. Regular bees don’t do that.”

St. Peter says he should have called an exterminator to remove the bees before starting the work.

He credits his co-workers, who helped him get down from the tree, with saving his life.

“I would have died. They weren’t stopping,” St. Peter said.

On his first day back at work on Monday, he says he’s going right for the same tree. The bees are obviously gone, so I’ll finish the job tomorrow,” he said.

Miami-dade man dies while apparently trying to remove beehive

A man in Southwest Miami-Dade was found dead early Tuesday near a colony of tens of thousands of bees, though it’s unclear if his death was caused by stings from the bees.

Miami-Dade homicide investigators were at the scene, but it will be up to the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death.

Police said they could not say whether the man died from a heart attack, a fall or from bee stings.

The man’s name was not disclosed, but Capt. Jeffrey Fobb, who works with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Response Unit, said fire rescue workers found the victim dressed in a partial protective bee suit about 50 feet from a “large colony of bees that contained in his estimation 50,000 to 60,000 bees.”

“We all had to don full protective bee suits to secure the body,” Fobb said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials were called about 8 a.m. to the home in the 10800 block of Southwest 84th Street. The victim was found on top of the roof of a three-story apartment complex. The hive, which measured about three feet, was near the roof.

The victim wore protective gear that covered his head and upper body, but not the rest of his body, said Fobb, who said authorities had not determined why the victim was working with the bees.

Neighbors told authorities they had been having problems with a beehive for the past 18 months, Fobb said.

The victim’s body will be taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.