Hiker Dies from More than 1,000 Bee Stings in Arizona

A Louisiana man hiking in Arizona suffered a terrifying death on a hiking trail right out of a horror movie: he was stung by more than 1,000 bees. 

Alex Bestler, 23, was hiking with a friend in Usury Mountain Regional Park in the foothills north of Phoenix when they encountered a swarm of bees. The two tried to get away but only his friend Sonya was able to reach the shelter of a park bathroom.

A fellow hiker who saw that Sonya was distressed went back to the scene a few minutes later and found Bestler in a prone position covered with bees. Unable to approach the man, he called park officials, who when they arrived also found Bestler prone on the ground covered in bees, according to a press release by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Once again not able to get close to the man due to the hostile nature of the bees, park rangers returned with a utility vehicle. They were able to load Bestler onto a UTV and drive away all the while with the bees still chasing. 

The young man was apparently responsive on the way to the hospital but was later pronounced dead. It was found afterward that he suffered more than 1,000 bee stings. 

Experts say it’s extremely rare for someone to die from bee stings alone. There are only about 100 deaths per year. It would take likely 2,000 to 3,000 stings to inject enough venom to kill a full grown man, Justin Schmidt, a bee expert and University of Arizona professor, told the Phoenix New Times. 

“To get somebody that has 2,000 or 3,000 stings, enough to kill you really fast, is almost unheard of,” Schmidt told the paper. 

More likely is that Bestler died from an allergic reaction. The likely culprit: Africanized honeybees, which have been proliferating in Arizona since the early 1990s. 

If you approach a swarm of bees in the wilderness the best thing to do is stay as far away as possible. If they do try to swarm around you, simply put, RUN!! Cover your nose and mouth either with a hand or the color of your shirt and get out of there as fast as humanly possible. At least 100 yards is usually a safe distance. 

If you are allergic to bee stings it is especially important that you don’t get sting. In case of an allergic reaction you can carry an EpiPen that delivers a dose of epinephrine, which counteracts the symptoms.

Photo credit: Dreamstime

bee swarm tree