Two Horses Killed by Honeybee Attack in France

Two horses in France died from complications following a rare, but ferocious, attack by domestic honeybees, which had been separated from their honey hives, according to treating veterinarians.

A 3-year-old gelding and an 18-month-old filly received thousands of stings each, all over their bodies, in their individual paddocks during an unprecedented attack by up to 60,000 honeybees, reported a local newspaper, Gregory Ghyoros, DVM, a veterinarian at the nearby equine clinic (Villefranche du Périgord, France) where the horses were immediately referred by the primary veterinarian, said the filly died of asphyxiation 18 hours later and the gelding of intestinal necrosis 28 hours later.

Jean-Jacques Labrunie, DVM, said he had to protect himself with a beekeeper's suit just to approach the horses during the attack. "We just soaked them in Flymax (a commercial fly spray for horses), and that killed the layer of bees that were already on them and repelled the rest until we could get them loaded onto trailers," Labrunie said. The filly was loaded recumbent. Both horses were administered "massive doses" of cortisone and transported to the clinic, where they received 15 different medications, primarily antihistamines and sedatives, including morphine, according to Ghyoros.

The bees' beekeeper had apparently moved their 35 metal hives to a different location earlier in the day, Labrunie said.

"Despite heavy sedation, these horses were still terrorized by even a simple fly," Ghyoros said.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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