AUSTIN, Texas - Thursday, Richard T. Garcia was attacked by bees outside his Aunt’s San Marcos property. He was stung an estimated 300 times.
Garcia was mowing the lawn at the home on Sherwood Drive, when he felt something tapping his head.
“I tried to brush it off,” he explained. Soon, several bees began bumping him.
Beekeeper Walter Schumaker of the American Honeybee Protection Agency says “bumping” is how bees tell others to “go away.” He says it is possible the vibration from Garcia’s lawnmower set the swarm off. He says bees do not attack at random but will defend themselves if they believe they are under attack.
“There’s certain vibrations that set off certain noises that represent [certain behaviors.]” he explained.
Once the bees began stinging Garcia, he says they marked him with a pheromone, signaling that he was a threat, and to “attack.”
“I was covered with bees all on the top of my head, all on my face, they were trying to go into my mouth.”
Garcia says he thought he was “going to die” during the attack. In an effort to escape the bees he doused himself in gasoline, ran into his truck, and into his neighbor's yard to use the hose -- all to no avail.
Garcia collapsed twice, completely consumed by bees. “I was literally just thinking of giving up, I thought my life was gonna be ended right here.”
The second time he collapsed he thought things were over. “I remember rolling over on my back and I can still feel them hitting me all over my face. Something made me get up, and I was able to go across the street to the neighbors.”
He believes his parents, his “angels” helped him up. Saturday, he wore a shirt with their name on it, to watch Schumaker and beekeeper Mary Jane Ellis remove and transplant the hive.
“I’m alive and I know that [my parents] are watching over me and that way they could watch over me today as I’m here facing my fears here as they remove the bees.”
Garcia, says the hive often haunts him in his sleep.
“The buzzing on my ears or hearing something on my ears and I would wake up.”
He says that’s why he felt it was all the more important to be there as Schumaker and Ellis transplanted the hive. Schumaker estimates there are anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 bees in the hive.
“I wanna face my fear, so that way I can sleep comfortably and know that they’re gone,” Garcia explained.
Saturday he was covered in scabs but was doing well. He spent six hours in the hospital Thursday. He says first responders and emergency room staff told him he was “lucky.”
The bees would not let up until the fire department arrived and hosed him down -- and even that was a long process. EMS had to park down the street because the swarm was so severe.