State to investigate whether swarming bees at Iolani Palace are ‘Africanized’

State to investigate whether swarming bees at Iolani Palace are ‘Africanized’
File photo of Iolani Palace. (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Iolani Palace and its grounds will likely remain closed through the weekend after a swarm of aggressive bees left several people with stings Thursday.

State officials say when crews worked to remove the bees, they actually found more hives.

Three more hives in fact: One in a column at the palace and two high in the walls.

Darcy Oishi, chief of the Hawaii Agriculture Department’s biological control section, said Friday that the bees pose a public safety issue.

“Our initial strategy is going to be basically work with a pest control company to test where the bees are," he said. “Because of the aggressive behavior that’s been demonstrated, we are going to be conducting tests ... to check if the bees are Africanized.”

He added, “If it’s Africanized, then that’s just bad news for the state of Hawaii.”

Africanized bees are known as “killer bees,” and can swarm to sting a person multiple times.

Curt Cottrell, administrator of the state Parks Division, said because of the potential risk the palace and its grounds will remain closed through the weekend and possibly even longer.

On Thursday, swarming bees at the palace sent a 32-year-old man to the hospital with multiple stings to his face, head and upper extremities. Palace officials said three other staff members were also stung.

Cottrell said the bees that attacked were from the hive in the palace’s column.

This story will be updated.

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