FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Behind a well-kept home in South Fort Worth, danger had been lurking for more than a decade — and the family never knew.
“We would just see a few bees come out every once in a while,” says Patricia Tave. “We had no idea.”
But, the Tave family was about to learn the hard way that ‘live and let live’ may not always be the best policy when it comes to honeybees.
“In a matter of minutes, they were swarming all over him, all over the backyard, really,” says Larry Tave. “They stayed on him and he just fell to the ground.”
Experts say there were likely 30,000 bees in the innocent looking hive. And on Tuesday, without warning, the bees turned aggressive, swarming and killing the Tave’s beloved pet pit bull mix, Rocky.
“When I ran back there to try to help him, they chased me clean around to the front yard and stung me,” said Larry.
The heartbroken couple could only watch helplessly as their dog lost a losing battle with the swarm of bees.
“We couldn’t do anything,” says Patricia. “I was just yelling ‘poor Rocky, Rocky: calm down, Rocky! Calm down, Rocky!’ But, how could the dog calm down when the bees were all over him. So, it was just very, very heartbreaking.”
But, Darren Milner with Bee Safe, a pest control company, says it could have been far worse.
“It only takes 100 bee stings to kill someone,” Milner said.
Noise, such as a lawnmower or weed trimmer, can trigger a bee swarm. But, at other times — like with the Taves — bees that remain docile for years can attack without warning.
Milner donned a protective suit to carry Rocky’s body away from the base of the tree. The hive was hidden in a knothole. The bees had been so agitated that the Taves weren’t able to get close.
And while they had no idea that the honeybees could be dangerous, Milner says he gets frequent calls from homeowners checking prices to get rid of a hive. He says they often choose to ignore it instead.
It takes just a few minutes for Milner to pump the hive with a poisonous white powder, and the bees start to drop like flies. But, hours earlier, these same bees managed to bring a 70 pound pit bull to its knees. Milner says the heat may have made the bees more aggressive. But, the more likely scenario, he says, is that a new queen took over, “more honery than the last”, and was looking to protect their territory.
So, what if it had been a child playing too close to the tree, instead of a dog?
Milner put it bluntly: “We’d be picking up a kid right now.”