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Landscaper in San Diego County dies after bee attack

June 16, 2010 |  6:36 pm

A 55-year-old man died Wednesday after suffering hundreds of bee stings while working outdoors in the northern San Diego County city of Encinitas, the Sheriff's Department said.

The man, described as a landscaper, was operating a backhoe in a brushy area near the San Elijo Lagoon when the equipment apparently disturbed a colony of bees.

As he was being stung repeatedly, the man fled to an outhouse about 200 yards away, where he was found moments later by authorities responding to an emergency call. He was pronounced dead at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas.

A 20-year-old nephew working with him was also stung but did not require hospitalization.

It is not known what kind of bees were involved in the attack. But San Diego County is considered to have colonies of Africanized honey bees throughout the region, although attacks are rare.

Each spring, when the number of bees multiplies, county agricultural officials warn the public and provide suggestions on how to avoid being attacked. Among them: Avoid wearing cologne or after-shave, wear white socks (bees are attracted by dark socks) and don't flail or swat at the bees.

Nationwide about 40 people a year die from bee stings.

-- Tony Perry in Encinitas