The scrapes on the French doors that lead to Debbie Leonard’s Boca Raton backyard and the slew of dead bees scattered on the ground are harsh reminders of something dog owners fear, but rarely expect.
“My children will not go in the backyard anymore,” said Leonard, a regional Realtor.
That is where her 7-year-old dog Delilah was viciously swarmed by bees while roaming the backyard Wednesday. The dog died a day later.
There were so many bees, Leonard said, that her kids, 15 and 19, feared opening the doors to the backyard when the pup attempted to scratch her way in.
“She attempted to hide,” Leonard explained. They were insistent.”
She hadn’t had any issues with bees until this episode.
Most probably the bees were “Africanized” — a phrase that describes an aggressive strain of bee more likely to be agitated quickly and much more competitive in reaction than their more docile European counterparts.
Leonard was at work once the attack happened. However, her kids and a family friend were home and witnessed the ordeal.
“They’re traumatized,” she said.
The family took Delilah to a nearby vet, then to an emergency veterinary hospital in West Palm Beach.
More than 100 stingers were pulled out of Delilah before she had been stable, Leonard said. However, the toxins made their way into her neurological system and she had to be put down.
“She died while my daughter held her mind,” Leonard explained.
The Boca Raton family hired a local beekeeper to scout the backyard.
The bee hive was maybe disturbed by Delilah, prompting the bees to swarm.
“I reside behind Mizner Park. It’s not like I live at Loxahatchee,” Leonard said. “I don’t think anyone should be able to keep hives in the city”
Leonard, who includes a 10-year-old Rottweiler which was inside the house at the time, wants accountability and much more state regulation of beekeeping in suburbs that are carpeted.
“God forbid one of my children was allergic to bees,” she said. “Those hives have got to go.”
Accidental encounters with Africanized hives have proven lethal to two Floridians and several pets in the past couple of decades.
Bee stings killed a U.S. Sugar worker in Clewiston who accidentally disturbed a hive whilst on the job in December 2013.
In 2014, bees attacked a father and son at an industrial area of Fort Pierce, but both managed to run into safety — one shut himself in the cab of a parked truck.