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Hundreds Of Bees Injured 2 People In Encino. Here's What To Do If You Encounter A Swarm

A bee perches on the end of a purple petal.
A bee collects pollen from flowers in Los Angeles. More flowers like these have boosted the bee population in L.A., which can lead to more feral bee swarms.
(Chris Delmas
AFP via Getty Images)
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A swarm of bees attacked two men in Encino on Tuesday, sending one to a hospital with multiple stings. The LAPD confirmed the man hospitalized was on of the department's volunteers.

Encountering a frightening and aggressive bee swarm is rare, but a larger than usual bee population should make Angelenos aware of how to protect themselves.

Why are there so many bees buzzing around?

The heavy rains from earlier this year have bolstered plant life, meaning more food to boost a growing bee population. More bees means a greater possibility of feral bee swarms.

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While bees are not inherently aggressive, they will become defensive if they need to protect their hives from people whom they view as predators.

What to do if you’re caught in a swarm

Avoid swatting around or running in circles. Instead, you should cover your face and immediately take shelter indoors or in a car.

If you do get stung, "you want to scratch it out with a fingernail instead of pinching the venom into you,” said Brooke Ashurst, a third generation bee-keeper from the Imperial Valley.

If you come across bees buzzing around you, he added, there's a hive nearby — so steer clear.

Some additional advice from James Nieh, a professor of ecology, behavior and evolution at UC San Diego, who spoke to NPR about the attacks:

Run away as fast as you can. Don't cover your face, because you won't be able to see where you're going. And don't play dead, because bees are attracted to the alarm pheromone left by other bees' stingers and may continue to sting you anyway.

"You can actually outrun them — especially if you're motivated — when you're being stung," he said. "You cannot play dead and escape bees. That's actually the worst thing to do."

Bees are attracted to dark areas such as hair, Nieh said, which is why they'll sting you around your head and why beekeepers wear white suits and footwear.
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