This week, I was milking sympathy after being stung twice by bees on two successive days walking our dog, Molly, through our nearby forest. The sympathy then came to an end when I saw this story about an elderly man in Redondo Beach, California.
It is amazing that a ninety-five-year-old man could survive such physical punishment. These are likely Africanized bees.
Thankfully, there is a legal angle. Authorities believe that the bees were sent into a frenzy by an effort of a fumigator to get rid of a hive on a nearby apartment roof. The man simply walked by and was attacked.
The question is liability. While bees can be an act of God, this could also be viewed as proximately caused by a negligent effort to get rid of a hive. Obviously, you cannot simply say “bees will be bees” if you are the cause of the swarming. We have previously seen some interesting causation cases with bees. In this case, assuming that the exterminator did not first wrap or contain the hive, it could be viewed as a case of negligence with the foreseeable result of a swarming of the bees.
Ages ago, I worked as an assistant bee keeper at the Chesapeake Center for Environmental Research as a summer intern. For a guy who have never liked bees, it was not my favorite job which included taking out shelves for kingdoms of bees. As I recall, the researcher was trying to reverse the process leading to Africanized bees. I much preferred working in the swamp like summer, but it certainly left a long impression on me.