Swarm season puts people at risk of bee stings, San Antonio expert warns

Man fatally stung earlier this week

SAN ANTONIO – A hive containing about 60,000 bees in an area where a man was fatally stung earlier this week has been removed, according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

The man, 71, was stung approximately more than 300 times Monday morning when he was cutting grass in the 17000 block of State Highway 16 South, just north of Loop 1604 in South Bexar County. He was identified as Alejandro Azua by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office.

A deputy was dispatched to the property this week when BCSO was notified of continued bee activity, Salazar said Thursday. The deputy contacted Total Service Pest Control, which was able to remove the hive and one of the walls of a structure.

The bee removal service was donated, he added.

A hive in an area where a man was fatally stung earlier this week in South Bexar County has been removed, Sheriff Javier Salazar said. Images: BCSO (KSAT)

Total Service Pest Control owner Richard LaBiche said his company has been removing and eradicating bees for many years, but this was his first time where someone died after a bee attack.

He said this time of year is swarm season when bees fly around looking for places to build their hives.

But with all the rain San Antonio has seen, there’s more yard work to do with the lawn mowers, weed trimmers and blowers.

“You pick up rocks and sticks in your yard before you cut grass, look in the crevices of your home and see if they need to be patched up,” LaBiche said. “If you can stick a pencil in a hole, a bee can get in the hole.”

And, he said, look for bees in and around the area.

“If there’s five or six flying around, they’re either looking for a new home, or they’re waiting to protect the entry to the hive,” he said.

LaBiche warns against the do-it-yourself approach to getting rid of large bee hives.

“A can of wasp spray is not going to harm sixty thousand bees. It’s just not going to happen,” LaBiche said.

To find a professional, he said his company’s services are listed with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and with agricultural extension offices around the state.

If cost is a concern, LaBiche said, “There are people out there, like myself, that are willing to help.”

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About the Authors

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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