Mich. Firefighters Rescue Beekeeper


The Pittsfield Township Fire Department had to rescue a beekeeper under attack in her driveway Tuesday evening.

The department used more than 700 gallons of water to disperse the colony of bees away from the besieged beekeeper.

The incident happened at the beekeepers home on the 7400 block of Fosdick Road early Tuesday evening.

Antoinete Rucillo said she was dressed in a bee suit and garden shoes as she tended to the queen of the bee colony. She said the bees suddenly became aggressive and turned on her.

"It's not that they even went crazy. The hive is a strong hive. It's a big hive. I think because there's so many of them, they're busy at work. It was them being productive and I was interfering with production. I never had that experience before," said Rucillo.

Rucillo's husband, Phil, said that he was in the kitchen when he looked out the window and saw his wife trembling with fear.

He said he dialed 911 and then ran out to help.

"I came out here, picked up the hose, started spraying her, but I didn't have a bee suit on so they quickly came after me," said Phil Rucillo. "I got a bite. I have several of them who were on my face, neck and arms. I just ran to the house and I brought about two dozen bees in there with me."

When firefighters arrived, Antoinete Rucillo, had a small garden hose in her hand, but it was not enough waterpower to scare away the angry swarm.

"It looked basically like a small black cloud," said Pittsfield Township Fire Capt. Greg Payeur.

Firefighters used water from a hose to create a wall between them and the bees and then flooded the beekeeper with water. Payeur said Antoinete Rucillo directed them to spray water into the air so it was as if it was raining on the bees because they don't like that.

As Antoinete Rucillo remained still, firefighters continued to spray water in the air until the bees slowly dispersed.

Meanwhile, some of the angry bees that couldn't get to the beekeepers body because of the suit took it out on her feet and legs.

"With the bee suit, I was fine. But they (the bees) found a way in to say, 'I'm angry with you,' and they started coming in through my feet," said Antoinete Rucillo.

Eventually, after enough bees had dispersed and more than 50 bee stings later, Antoinete Rucillo ran into the garage, tore the suit off and ran into the house.

No firefighters were injured during the rescue and several firefighters documented the unusual rescue with photographs.

Antoinete Rucillo, who uses the bees to harvest honey, said she doesnt blame the bees.

"They're bees, they're just protecting their hive. I was the one who wasn't prudent. I'm not mad at them at all," she said.

Antoinete Rucillo said beekeeping is her hobby and that if she thought they were a threat to any of her four children that she would get rid of them.

However, after this incident, her husband said he's had enough of the bees.

"My hope is that we won't have the hives anymore out of an abundance of caution," he said. "Apparently this is extremely rare and if she insists on having them, I will have no problem as so long as when she goes out there, our kids and I are 10 miles elsewhere."

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