Bountiful man recovering after being stung by hundreds of bees in southern Utah

Posted at 7:49 PM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-24 09:35:24-04

BOUNTIFUL, Utah – While attending his grandson's baseball game at Elks Field in St. George Friday, Jay Francis of Bountiful said he never expected to be stung 400 times by a swarm of bees.

"It just was a mess,” Francis said. “Everybody was running and swatting and that. And I luckily had a coat on. So the only thing they got me was on my head."

Around 11 a.m., a group of children playing with a ball near a telephone pole disturbed an underground beehive. Thousands of bees flew out and attacked the spectators.

It took 15 minutes for fire crews to arrive. They sprayed the victims with a fire hose to scare off the bees.

Francis was rushed to Dixie Regional Medical Center.

"The four attendants had their tweezers and they spent probably, what, 30 minutes?” Francis said. “All four of them, pulling these stingers out of my head. They figured I had close to 400 of them in my head and face."

First responders evacuated the baseball field. Several people stung by bees were treated at the scene.

Despite the massive swelling on his face and hands, Francis said, his recovery is going well.

"I felt pretty good when we came home Sunday,” he said. “I didn't have any reaction other than just what you can see now."

The Utah Department of Agriculture is conducting tests to determine if these were Africanized bees.

Joey Caputo from the Department of Agriculture said Africanized honeybees don't typically live in cooler climates, which is why they can be found in southern Utah but not northern Utah.

Caputo added they're constantly monitoring them to make sure they're not migrating north.

"Africanized bees tend to be much more aggressive,” he said. “They send out a lot more guard bees. And are definitely more hostile towards people."

Caputo said if you accidentally disturb Africanized bees, try to run away and protect yourself.

"Get into a building or a car,” he said. “If you can cover your head with a jacket or a blanket, that's very helpful."