HOOD COUNTY, Texas — A small cloud of bees circled a hole in a live oak tree in a Hood County pasture Tuesday afternoon. They were active, but not aggressive.
But on Sunday afternoon, the bees attacked — and kept on attacking three people and a horse named Pretty Boy.
The horse later died.
Brandon Oliver tried to pull him out of a corral to get him away from the swarm. Oliver said Pretty Boy was so covered with bees that there was barely any white showing, even though the paint horse was mostly white.
He said he led the horse nearly 100 yards away, but the bees chased them as Pretty Boy jumped and threw himself on the ground.
Oliver said he received more than a dozen stings, despite covering himself up in a heavy coat.
Brandon Oliver's father-in-law, Joe Wheat, called the Hood County sheriff and 911 three times. A dispatcher told him the county had no one who handles bees.
Wheat finally reached a beekeeper, who repeatedly tried to calm them with smoke. Then he turned to poison.
The beekeeper said they were the most aggressive he had ever seen, and that he suspected they were Africanized "killer bees."
It was already too late for Pretty Boy. They found him dead Monday, despite following a veterinarian's directions to try to give the horse Benadryl.
Joe Wheat's family now fears the same thing will happen again — maybe to the week-old colts that Pretty Boy sired.
Or maybe next time, a child will be the victim.
Wheat said there have been bees in this particular tree off-and-on since he was a child, but they never bothered anyone until Sunday.
No tests have been performed to confirm that the attacking bees were Africanized. The county agricultural extension agent said Africanized bees have been found in Hood County in recent years, but they have not previously been a big problem.