A 69-year-old Las Vegas man was severely stung by bees while hiking near the top of Lone Mountain late Friday afternoon. It took a few hours to retrieve the man and get him to the hospital.
According to the man, he was near the top of Lone Mountain on a trail at approximately 5 p.m. when he encountered bees and was stung several times. He was unable to summon for help. Fire & Rescue was notified at 7:23 p.m. Because he was located in a remote area on the mountain, a helicopter from Metro Search & Rescue was used to bring him off the mountain to a LVFR rescue ambulance where he was treated by paramedics and then transported to the hospital at 8:38 p.m. He was treated by paramedics who estimated the man was stung nearly 300 times.
Encounters with bees by hikers are not uncommon and it has happened in the past on Lone Mountain. The desert is a natural habitat for bees and hikers should be aware that bees can be found anywhere in the desert and especially on mountain sides where there are natural places for the bees to hide from predators and build a hive.
Just as there are other potential dangers while hiking such as flash flooding, snakes, animals and desert plants, hikers need to be aware of bees and other insects. Hikers should carry a bee mask which covers the head from the shoulders up. Most stinging by bees occurs from the shoulders up because the bees are attracted to the carbon dioxide which is exhaled by animals and humans while breathing. The mask, which can be carried in a pocket, can be quickly put on protecting the head while the hiker evacuates the area.
In the desert, bees are attracted to dead-hollow plants/trees, caves or large openings in the ground or sides of hills and abandoned vehicles or structures to build a hive. When a hiker crosses a bee colony’s defense perimeter, they will send a few bees to intimidate you or fly directly into your head, which is known as “head butting.” This is the bee’s way of communicating that you have entered their restricted area and should leave immediately. A hiker should quickly don their bee mask and reverse their course quietly and quickly. If stung, they should leave the area as quickly as possible. When a bee stings, it releases an odor that signals the colony that they are under attack and should defend the colony. The odor is used as a homing device and the hiker should leave the area as quickly as possible. Do not wave your arms or yell as this is used by the bees to help locate the predator.
Hikers should always carry a communications device to summon for help in the event of an emergency.
For more information about bees and bee safety, call the Bee Safety Hotline to listen to a three minute recording at (702) 229-2000.