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Researcher: More bees present in Arizona this year

PHOENIX -- An Arizona researcher are warning that if bees are nearby, and you're not careful, it could be deadly.

Dr. Gloria Digrande-Hoffman, Research Director of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson said you may be seeing more bees in Arizona for awhile.

"Whenever we have a year with good rains and lots of flowering plans, there's a tendency for these colonies to get larger and to swarm and become more noticeable," she said.

The body of 55-year-old Dr. Gregory Hess was found in southern Arizona on Monday. He had been hiking down a cliff in the are and was hanging on to a rope when he was attacked and killed by a swarm of bees. His dog was on the top of the cliff and was also stung to death. Hess was connected to the rope, which was hanging within a few feet of a beehive.

"These sting attacks usually happen when somebody encounters a colony, and accidentally does something that's a major disturbance that provokes the nest defense behavior that causes the bees to come out and sting," said Digrande-Hoffman.

If bees are about to attack, the best thing you can do is run. Digrande-Hoffman said most healthy people can run fast enough to get away from a bee attack. Most deaths happen when the victims aren't in a position to run away.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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