Tests show bees in Pascagoula attack not ’killer’ strain

Published 7:38 pm Friday, March 14, 2008

Tests show the bees that attacked an 81-year-old man and killed his dog were a strain common to Mississippi and not Africanized honey bees, authorities said.

Robert Cherry, who was not seriously injured in the bee attack at his Pascagoula home this past week, said he was relieved the colony was not the so-called “killer bees.”

Cherry is still dealing with the death of his beagle, Theo.

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“I miss him,” Cherry said of his dog. “Every time I go by where I kept him, I look for him.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell ordered testing of about 100 samples of the bees after they were killed by a pest control company.

Spell’s office said Wednesday that the tested bees were of a European strain common to Mississippi.

The attack occurred while Cherry was taking out the garbage. Cherry was stung about six times and had to retreat inside his house after trying to rescue Theo, who was covered by the bees inside his kennel area. Theo suffered more than 1,000 stings, officials said.

State entomologist Harry Fulton said he believes the attack was an isolated incident, but state Department of Agriculture and Commerce will continue setting and monitoring swarm traps in the area and the southwestern border of Louisiana to detect any possible Africanized bee migration into Mississippi.