Running of the Bees While on Assignment

I had heard of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but never imagined doing a similar version from Africanized honey bees in Tucson.

As I filmed Greg Denker, the owner of American Bee Control, he lifted the top of apiary and explained that the Africanized honey bees were being resettled after being removed from residential property.

African honey bees, which are known for their quick and aggressive attacks, make up the majority of Arizona’s feral bee population, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Africanized honey bees were called killer bees following a spate of deadly attacks in the early 1990s.

A bee removal expert who transplants unwanted colonies to his hives outside of Tucson, Mr. Denker, 60, views Africanized bees differently.

He pulled out a hive frame, a stackable tray inside the hive that serves as a base for bees to build their wax. And it was swarming with bees.

“They’ve taken ownership of it and filled it up with honey in just a week,” Mr. Denker said. “I think this is an exemplary bunch of bees. I think any beekeeper in the country would be happy.”

David Brenton, the beekeeper and owner of Tucson Honey Company, noted that the reliance on Africanized honey bees was attractive to beekeepers.

“They’re resistant to a lot of the diseases that kill European honeybees,” he said. “These are strong bees—the ones you want.”

The buzz of the recently transplanted bees becomes louder as Mr. Denker closed the top.

“We should go,” he said.

The bees that surrounded us began to sting, focusing on my vulnerable areas — the edge of my protective gloves that clutched my camera and across my nose and cheeks which were momentarily pressed against the protective mesh of the beekeeping helmet.

The brisk walk away from the hive didn’t stop the bees who followed us for nearly four minutes.

“You alright?” Mr. Denker said.

As the bees disappeared, so did my surge of adrenaline. I decided to film cactuses and sunsets — two things that wouldn’t attack me, instead.

In my car ride back home I pulled out six stingers.