WEST PARK, Fla. – A swarm of bees killed a 65-year-old West Park resident's pet Rottweiler Thursday afternoon.
The incident happened in the 4900 block of Southwest 22nd Street about 3:50 p.m.
Robert Denmark was washing Rico, his 6-year-old Rottweiler, when the swarm attacked them, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
"I was out bathing the dog and the bees just swarmed me," said Denmark. "That was my friend, man's best friend."
A witness called 911 and fire rescue arrived.
"I tried to light a fire to get the bees off my dog," said Denmark. "They swarmed him, they swarmed me, too. Probably 1,000 bit me all in the face. The only thing I could do was run."
Denmark took Rico to the veterinarian, where the dog died.
"If it can kill that dog, it could kill a small child," said Denmark. "It is a very serious thing."
Ushering an urgent search for the hive, it didn't take long for Rolando Calzadilla of Bird & Bee Removal to spot something suspicious in a neighbor's tree.
"Inside that tree, between the base of the trunks, there's a void," said Calzadilla. "Cracks in and out."
Calzadilla's approach to the deeply buried hive was a kill and seal, pumping insecticide smoke and dust down into the tree's trunk and then sealing the cracks with foam.
"When the smoke got in there, it was like a helicopter because they were buzzing a lot," said Calzadilla. "Chances are, they are Africanized because of their behavior. You can tell the difference."
His advice is if you ever find yourself in Denmark's situation, pick a direction and run.
"Don't hide in the water and they will wait for you, so just run," said Calzadilla.
According to a bee expert, the bees' aggressive behavior suggests they could be Africanized honey bees instead of European honey bees. The expert said there is no way to tell unless one is inspected under a microscope.
Mark Fagan with the Florida Department of Agriculture said Africanized honey bees have killed 17 people in the U.S.