Recent bee attacks in Arizona have convinced some experts that drought may be making thirsty bees more aggressive. They could be moving into populated areas looking for water. “This is a very real problem,” says beekeeper Tom Martin, who thinks the situation will get worse if the drought continues. Three recent attacks, one of which killed a 46-year-old woman, have people worried. Cheryl McClain, who was allergic to bee stings, died after being stung 80 times by bees swarming outside her home. Her boyfriend was also stung many times, but managed to survive.

The next day, a 63-year-old woman and her 43-year-old son survived an attack by several hundred bees in front of their Tucson home when they unknowingly disturbed some bee hives. Martin, who is president of AAA Africanized Bee Removal Specialists, thinks the drought has caused a shortage of honey and bees are trying to steal each other’s supplies.”The guard bees are on a heightened defense to protect. They’re more apt to attack with less provocation,” he says.

Dave Langston, of the Arizona Africanized Honeybee Education Program, thinks the drought is causing bees to relocate and look for water. “They go where people live. They go to urban areas and parks,” he says. “When you get into a drought situation and the bees are already hungry and stressed out, they are more likely to cause a problem.”

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