The assignment was routine: Clear a pile of wood and old tires from Picnic Island Park in Port Tampa.
Then the bees started buzzing.
A day later, two city parks department workers were still recovering from the ordeal.
David Zeledon said he and coworker Rodney Pugh were clearing away the wood and tires when they disturbed a beehive.
“It was a cloud of bees all over the place,” said Zeledon, 53. “There was nowhere to run.”
Zeledon, on the ground by the pile, shouted at Pugh, who was operating a backhoe.
“I was like, ‘Run, Rodney, run!’
Zeledon ran across the road to get away from the swarm, fell twice, and looked over his shoulder to see if Pugh was OK.
He said he couldn’t see much because a cluster of bees had landed on his shoulder and buzzed around his head.
“I never saw so many in my whole life,” he said.
Zeledon said he managed to get the swarm off of him by running through bushes, then taking shelter behind a park ranger’s building. He went back to check on Pugh and saw his colleague running through the swarm toward Zeledon.
Zeledon said he grabbed a hose and sprayed water on them both.
The pair then called their supervisors, who contacted a local company to exterminate the bees, said Greg Bayor, director of the city’s parks department.
Jonathan Simkins, an entomologist for local company Insect I.Q., said he used a special foam to exterminate the bees. He said the aggressiveness indicates the colony was most likely Africanized bees.
Zeledon and Pugh were taken to Tampa General Hospital with numerous stings, Bayor said. Both were given antibiotics; Zeledon was released from the hospital Tuesday and Pugh on Wednesday.
The bee attack occurred in an area of the 350-square foot park that was not open to the public, Bayor said. Some items in the debris pile came from illegal dumping, he said.