Cal State Fullerton’s Student Health Center was kept busy Oct. 9 by numerous students with one common, albeit unexpected, problem: bee stings.
On Tuesday of last week, Canyon Fire 2 blazed its way across 8,000 acres of land. However, the fire was not the only thing fueled by the heavy Santa Ana winds.
Richard Boucher, Student Health Center chief staff physician, said two beehives on campus were blown over by the strong winds, irritating the bees within and causing them to sting people in the area.
Boucher said six different students visited CSUF’s Student Health Center the day of the incident with stings ranging from one to 15.
“I’m sure there were probably more than that, but those were just the ones that came in,” Boucher said.
In response to the many cases coming in simultaneously, the nursing supervisor contacted Facilities Management, a campus organization that works to promote safety awareness.
Facilities Management roped off both areas that surrounded the hives, one of which was in Lot A, while the other was near the ticket booth by the Clayes Performing Arts Center.
While driving near the Clayes Arts Performing Center, university safety trainer Frank Chavoya and his colleague spotted one of the blown over hives that had already been roped off. After investigating the scene, Chavoya called Facilities Management and had them contact two different companies to see about retrieving the hive.
Neither of the companies were able to arrive in a timely manner, so Chavoya and his colleague took it upon themselves to find a makeshift solution to the problem.
“More students or staff would have gotten stung, so we actually suited up. We didn’t have the proper bee suit to pick up the hive safely, but we used a hazmat suit and doubled up on the gloves,” Chavoya said.
After safely recovering the hive, they put it into a storage area until the company was able to come pick it up and save the bees inside.
This was not the first bee incident that has occurred on campus, Chavoya said. The Environmental Health and Safety Offices had gotten reports of a high amount of bees on campus once last semester, and once over summer.
However, Chavoya said the reports did not include hives or excessive stinging problems, nor was he made aware of any signs of bee aggression.
In response to this unusual situation, the Environmental Health and Safety Offices invested in equipment to prepare for potential future incidents.
“Seeing how this last beehive incident affected the students and campus community, our office went out and purchased legitimate bee suits and a smoker,” Chavoya said. “We’re going to make a kit so that if it does happen again in the future, we’re more prepared and can respond in a more timely manner and keep students from being stung.”