Climber Attacked By Killer Bees!

As if rock climbing didn’t come with enough hazards as it is, this story from Stewart’s Climbing Blog, gives us just one more thing to be aware of while were out in the backcountry.

According to the story, last Friday, an Arizona man was climbing a rock face on Camelback Mountain near Phoenix, where he stumbled across a hive of Africanized Honeybees, also known in popular culture as “killer bees”. The easily agitated insects didn’t take to kindly to their intruder, and decided to attack the man, who was hundreds of feet off the ground at the time. With no place to go, the 50 year old climber made his way to a rock ledge, where he became stranded, even as the bees continued their onslaught. By the time a rescue team came to get him, he had been stung more than 120 times.

As the article notes, Africanized Honeybees are the result of European bees being cross bred with a species from Southern Africa. The results are a highly aggressive hybrid that are easily provoked and will attack repeatedly. They can inject as much as .1 mg of venom with each sting, and tend to overwhelm their prey with their numbers. The bees were accidently set free from a lab in Brazil back in the 1950’s, and they have been slowly making their way across the warmer climes of both North and South America ever since.

Fortunately, this climber survived his encounter. Supposedly it takes roughly 500 stings from these bees to actually kill an adult. Still, I wouldn’t want to mess with them, and the last place I would ever want to encounter them is on the side of a mountain.

Kraig Becker

2 thoughts on “Climber Attacked By Killer Bees!”

  1. It's a strange story to be sure, but it should be noted that the man wasn't climbing, he was rock scrambling. The situation would have played out very differently had a climber been in that situation (e.g. he would have down-climbed rather than get stranded, or rappelled/been lowered if he was using a rope).

  2. Ah! Thanks for the clarification. As noted in the story, there was a climber attacked by bees while on the rock, and he ended up falling to his death. Crazy, scary stuff.

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