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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 4:08 pm | Overcast 60º


Tree Workers Hospitalized After Bee Swarm Attacks

One of the men is stung 30 to 40 times in incident on Santa Barbara's Westside

Santa Barbara City Tree Inspector Randy Fritz, wearing protective gear, coaxes bees into a box Wednesday after two tree workers were attacked by a swarm on the city’s Westside.
Santa Barbara City Tree Inspector Randy Fritz, wearing protective gear, coaxes bees into a box Wednesday after two tree workers were attacked by a swarm on the city’s Westside. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Two tree workers were taken to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after being attacked by a swarm of bees on Santa Barbara's Westside, according to the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.

The incident occurred shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Valerio Street near San Pascual Street, said fire Capt. Mike Meyers.

The workers were trimming branches away from power lines when they were attacked by the swarm, Meyers said.

One worker suffered 30-40 stings, Meyers said, while the other was only stung two or three times.

Both were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Fire crews dispatched to the scene found two separate swarms on opposite sides of Valerio Street, Meyers said.

Beekeepers were called in to assist, and were able to capture one of the swarms.

Neighbors on Valerio Street said the swarm had been growing in recent days, and they had notified the city, but nothing had been done. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara City Tree Inspector Randy Fritz was suited up and lifted into the foliage, where he was able to contain the swarm in a wooden box.

At 4:15 p.m., they were preparing to corral the remaining, larger swarm, which Meyers estimated was two feet long and a foot across.

After assessing the situation, the beekeepers decided to wait until later in the evening to allow the swarm to calm down. Crews returned at dusk and removed the second swarm.

Valerio Street was shut down to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic from San Pascual to San Andres Street, and the closure lasted several hours.

Neighbors were watching the activity from both ends of the cordoned-off street, and several said they had called the city to report the swarm in the previous days but had not seen anything done.

Valerio Street Resident Lisa Lopez was in the area, and said that she walks her dogs on the street each day, and had seen the swarm growing larger and larger each day over the past several weeks.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Santa Barbara firefighters, some wearing special protective gear, responded to the city's Westside Wednesday after a swarm of bees attacked two tree workers, sending them to the hospital. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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