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Two people injured in bee attack in NW Austin

Thousands  of bees swarmed two landscape workers while they mowed a lawn in north Austin.  (Photo: Bettie Cross)

Aggressive bees swarmed several landscape workers in Northwest Austin this afternoon sending two to the hospital. The honey bees got riled up by the vibrations from a lawnmower that was cutting the grass at a home on Weeks Cove near Highway 183 and McNeil Drive.

Those lawnmower vibrations combined with having two landscaping teams working on houses next to each other was too much for the bees to put up with.

"You had a bee hive and then multiple groups of people interfering in their space and so they saw it as aggression toward them. So they sent some bees out to say get away and instead of the landscapers heeding their warning, they stayed and continued to do their work and swatted some bees with their hats. That's when the Queen said that ain't happening," said Walter Schumacher, owner of the American Honey Bee Protection Agency.

One landscaper was covered in bees and when David Ibarra went to help he was overwhelmed. He showed us stings near one eye, on other parts of his face and on the back of his head. The landscaper for Advance Landscape Designs says he is still in pain, but says the other landscaper fared much worse.

"I looked on one side of the fence and he was lying down fighting off bees. I ran to help him but I couldn't because they were stinging me too. I ran and they chased me and I had to jump a fence to get away," said Ibarra.

The Weeks Cove cul-de-sac was overrun with bees Wednesday afternoon. But the bees that attacked the landscapers are only a small portion of the colony that lives in two hives in the backyard of the Northwest Austin house.

"If the hive I'm looking at is what I think it is with 150,000 to 200,000 bees, she could send out 20,000 bees to go and run the bear off, and again we're all to them a bear," said Schumacher.

The next step is to remove a large hive and a smaller one. That could take a few weeks, but Schumacher says the situation is under control.

He advised anyone who is being attacked by bees to cover their face and walk briskly to the nearest house or car and get inside. The beekeeper says never run and do not wave your arms around. That further agitates the bees and makes them think they are still under attack.

This is a developing story, more to follow.

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