A heart-wrenching tragedy took place in Nicaragua this past Monday when a bus, carrying 40 passengers, unexpectedly veered off the road during a lengthy journey from Jinotega to the northwest of the country. While all 40 occupants survived the accident, they eventually fell victim to a swarm of Africanized honey bees.
The incident began when the bus encountered a mechanical issue and plummeted 165 feet off a ravine into a coffee plantation, alarming a swarm of the dangerous bees. The agitated insects began to sting the passengers numerous times, leading to six casualties and 14 severely injured individuals.
Those who lost their lives include Reyna Isabel Olivas Montalván, 84, Santos Arnulfo Calderón Castellón, 38, Dilcia Flores Amparo, 32, and Kenia Jazmín Soza Bonilla, 19. The other two were Eneyda Tórrez Zelaya, 47, and her eight-year-old daughter Andrea Carolina.
Photos of the accident showed some survivors with hundreds of painful stings scattered along their bodies.
These Africanized honey bees, also known as “killer bees,” emerged as a cross-breed of European and African honey bees that was imported to Brazil in 1956. A year later, a number of them escaped from an apiary, commencing a breeding process with the native bees.
According to the Smithsonian, Africanized honey bees are much more intimidating than their purebred relatives since they have a tenfold faster response rate and can inflict up to ten times more stings.
Inflicting over a thousand reported deaths in Brazil since the 1950s, this species of bee has extended its range to various other continents, including to countries such as Nicaragua and the United States. In 1990, an instance of their presence arose in Texas, followed by Arizona in 1993. Additional accounts of their hazard appear from as recent as an attack on a Walmart in Wallis, Texas that caused one man to receive hospitalization.