Bee attacks lead the list of reasons for fire calls

The biggest reason fire fighters are called out in Costa Rica are bee attacks, according to statistics released Wednesday by the agency.

The Bomberos de Costa Rica are the first line defense against aggressive bees, and there were 13,133 such incidents in 2013. That number represented 531 more calls than in 2013.

By contrast there were only 1,082 structural fires last year, a small reduction from the 1,102 in 2012.

The bees in Costa Rica have genetic characteristics of the African bees that took over the local bee population in the last decades of the 20th century. The bees are far more aggressive and respond in masses to vibrations or odor from a bee sting. Attacks can be fatal.

The bees are descendants from a few queens liberated in Brazil in 1957. They swept north and replaced existing bee varieties.

Most of the attacks come from wild or feral bee hives that are accidentally bumped or otherwise subjected to vibration. The hollow concrete utility poles are perfect locations for hives as are hollow trees and building walls.

The fire agency issued warnings about tampering or trying to eradicate such hives. Fire fighters have special equipment for that purpose. They seek reports on hive locations.

In all the fire agency responded to 51,000 calls in 2013, a 26 percent or 10,498 call increase over the prior year.

Field fires numbered 9,682 and liquid petroleum emergencies were 6,839. Gas calls were up to 6,839 in 2013 from 2,940 in 2012. That may have been caused by several serious and a fatal event that made the news and prompted more gas users to seek outside help when there was a leak.

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