After man falls to death on Camelback Mountain during bee attack, experts have advice

PHOENIX - Firefighters say Camelback mountain is safe for hikers but everyone should know what to do in case of a bee attack. The advice comes one day after a hiker died trying to escape a swarm of bees.

The hiker, who has not been identified, fell 150 feet while on the Echo Canyon trail Monday afternoon. Two others in his group were rescued by firefighters. They were stung 300 times each, according to Phoenix fire officials.

The hikers were in a section of the mountain called Ice Box Canyon. Ice Box is part of a trail but is mainly used for free climbing, said Phoenix fire spokesman Scott McDonald. The area is not far from the trailhead and faces the Echo Canyon parking lot. The attack happened just before 4 p.m. Monday.

It's not clear if there was a hive that was disturbed or if the bee swarm was passing by, McDonald said.

The men who survived called for help and hunkered down in a crevice. 

McDonald said this was a tough situation and there is no right or wrong but offered the following safety advice.

  • Do not approach a hive or touch one. Bees attack if they feel threatened or if their queen bee is nearby.
    If you see multiple bees in an area, avoid it. That's a sign that a hive could be nearby.
  • If you are attacked, run if you can safely.
  • If you're in an area where it's not safe to run, call for help and hunker down.
  • Do NOT flail your arms or swat at the bees. This will annoy them and possibly cause them to be more aggressive.
  • Cover your head, eyes, and mouth. Bees tend to attack this area and are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we breathe out.
  • Aggressive bees have been known to chase a person up to 1/4 mile and wait an hour to continue an attack. If you are at home, it's not a good idea to jump in a pool and wait for them to leave. McDonald says your best bet is to get inside as fast as possible.
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