23rd Avenue South in St. Petersburg had the look and feel of crime scene late Thursday, and in a sense it was. The suspects? Tens of thousands of bees.
They were responsible for the death of a pit bull earlier in the day. They swarmed, attacking over and over.
Another pit bull barely survived. It was stung more than a hundred times, and is being treated at a local animal hospital.
An exterminator estimated there may have been as many as 80,000 bees in a nest in the attic of a nearby home.
"As long as they're not disturbed, they're fine. They've been there quite a while. But something happened today with the dogs that they didn't like, caused them to be aggressive in defending their hive and they attacked the dogs," said Lt. Dennis Bolender, with the St. Petersburg Police.
They were carefully removed around dusk using a special chemical that sent them buzzing away.
"Overnight, they won't move around. In the morning, they'll find a place to settle. We're told it's completely safe," said St. Pete Police Sgt. Brian Taylor.
Police said the bees were African honey bees, nicknamed "killer bees" for their aggressive behavior. They are an invasive species to Florida, and researchers say they are more likely to attack a perceived threat, and in larger numbers, than European honey bees.
Ousting them, rather than killing them, doesn't sit well with neighbors like Jania Talbert.
"We don't know where they're going, when they're going," she said.
The attack on the dogs are extreme examples of just how aggressive the Africanized bees can act. Based on their numbers, they may have been in the home for many years, but somehow the homeowners never knew.
"We don't stay on that side of the house. There are a couple of rooms we don't use on that side of the house. We didn't even know they were there," said homeowner Don Burns.
Unfortunately, they found out a little too late.
"I feel bad that the dogs got hurt. I hate that they did," Burns said.
The dogs' owner, Fabian Guzman, said he found dogs shortly after the attack.
"I ran out there tried to grab the dogs, got stung. Grabbed the water hose to get the bees off. We finally got the dogs out of there."
Guzman said each dog was probably stung around 100 times.
Now, vets are keeping a close eye on the dog that survived.
"I wouldn't say she's out of the woods. She's not critical, but not out of the woods," said vet tech Kelly Charleston.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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