A woman has been left in a critical condition after she was attacked by a reported 80,000 bees.
Four firefighters were called to the woman’s Southern California home on Monday with reports she had been stung by a swarm of the insects.
Fire Captain Tony Bommarito said the woman, believed to be in her 50s, had been cleaning the home when she went to her car to get something. However, she was attacked by bees in a hive, which was concealed by bushes.
He added told KNBC-TV was “literally covered from head to toe” with bees and barely conscious.
Sarah, the home owner, told ABC News she found the woman, identified as Maria, screaming.
“I was telling her, ‘move from the bees, come over here’,” Sarah said.
She added Maria tried to cover her face with her hands as the bees stung her.
Two firefighters used a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to disperse them. They were also stung multiple times as they didn’t stop to put on protective clothing. The pair went to hospital but were treated and released.
Sarah, neighbour Cynthia Emmets and her dog were also stung. Sarah was hospitalised too.
Ms Emmets told KCAL the sight of the cleaner fighting off the bees was “horrific”.
“I will never lose the memory of seeing her just swatting at whatever she could,” she said.
It’s believed the swarm contained 80,000 bees, Fairfax reported.
The bees were also identified as a swarm of Africanised bees – a species more aggressive than the European bee, which is traditionally used in bee-keeping and honey gathering.
Experts said the hive went unnoticed for about six months and weighed more than four kilograms.
The bees and the hive have since been removed from the property.
Residents said five buckets of honey were also taken away.
The woman is expected to survive her injuries.