Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - Bees are getting an early start this season. Tucson Firefighters already answered five bee calls this April, and experts say this season is already shaping up to be one of the worst.
"About mid-March the bees showed up and they showed up in big numbers," said HTS Bee Removal specialist Pat McCracken, "By comparison to the last two years it's about double what has been happening."
McCracken works eight to 15 calls a day. Each time, he suits up to protect his hands and face from stings. The bee population in Southern Arizona is notoriously aggressive.
"The longer the hives stays inside an area they become protective of that hive and our native bee now is the africanized honey bee," said McCracken, "and they defend their hive very very strong."
McCracken says home-owners shouldn't wait until there's a hive to think of bee removal. There are steps residents can take for prevention.
"They need to go around their house and any opening that leads to a cavity that's more than a foot square needs to be sealed if it's more than a quarter inch wide," he said, adding that residual pesticides also work.
Home-owners should pay close attention to overhangs, ceilings, and old sheds or barns. If a hive has already moved in, call a professional.
"People just need to know that they can't go out and try to do things without the proper equipment and protection," he said.
In the event of a bee attack, Tucson Fire says the victim should cover their face with their shirt and run directly to the nearest indoor location.