European honey bees may be in danger, but the Africanized honey bees, commonly called killer bees, are a danger – something a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham learned firsthand earlier this summer.

Olivia Affuso, PhD, was attending the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, in June when she found herself in the middle of an attack of thousands of bees.

Affuso, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, was walking to dinner with colleagues when she saw two workers outside of the conference’s convention center who were on a lift, 16 to 20 feet in the air, appearing to work on one of the center’s street banners. As she neared the men, she knew something was not right.

“At first, we saw them waving and heard the guys saying, ‘We have to get down from here!’” Affuso said. “I then saw that they were surrounded by bees that were stinging them relentlessly while they screamed for help.”

Affuso jumped into action, alerting a nearby police officer, as well as the lift operator, who was inside his truck and could not hear the workers’ calls for help.

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