A swarm of possible killer bees have been spotted near a popular walking trail in the Tampa area. (WTSP)
LARGO, Fla. -- The Pinellas Trail is used by an estimated 90,000 people a month. But what most of those people likely don't realize is that Africanized or killer bees have been found living along the path.
"These bees are extremely aggressive and more and more people are getting hurt here in Pinellas (County) because of this type of bee," Jeffery McChesney of Truly Nolan said.
On Tuesday, 11Alive's sister station, WTSP went out to investigate two possible killer bee colonies along cement walls facing the path between Walsingham Road and Ulmerton Road in Largo. McChesney says without DNA testing you can't tell for sure if the colonies are killer bees, but he says they likely are, in part because of an incident last year.
Less than a half mile from where the new colonies are located, an elderly woman was attacked by killer bees. The incident sent the woman to the hospital for four days. She was stung nearly 50 times.
McChesney was called in to take down that colony following the attack.
"The problem is Africanized bees, they multiply twice as fast as our European bees, meaning they are cutting their colonies in half almost every month and sending out a new swarm."
After WTSP called the county on Tuesday to discuss the newest colonies, the Parks Department's Chief Ranger Carol Gray arrived on scene to make sure no one would be hurt.
"We'll flag off the area to make sure none of the citizens are exposed to the bees and then we'll contact the property owners since this is obviously a private owner's fence," Gray told 10 News after setting up some cones near one of the colonies.
"We hope the property owners will take responsibility and take care of it. If not, we do have a service contract with the county that we can call on to take care of the situation," she added.
Experts say killer bees are dangerous because they're easily provoked, they're quick to swarm, they attack in greater numbers and they'll pursue their victim for up to a quarter mile.
McChesney says homeowners need to be vigilant by making sure all holes and small crevasses are either properly chalked or sealed to prevent bees from moving in.
He also says people using the Pinellas Trail need to be careful and if they see a colony, don't stop to watch or do anything to agitate the bees.
"If they feel that you are posing a threat to their colony, those two bees could turn into 10,000 bees within a matter of seconds."