A swarm of bees that recently killed a pet dog and attacked a pest exterminator and four firefighters in Fullerton was so aggressive that officials took the unusual step of testing the insects' DNA, certain they'd prove to be Africanized honeybees.
But state agriculture officials in Sacramento concluded Thursday that the tests showed the insects were not so-called "killer bees," which were first sighted in Southern California in 1998. Orange County had not yet recorded its first stinging incident by the Africanized bees after all.
"I'm surprised," said Jim Francisco, who oversees the bee program for the county's Vector Control District. "The way these bees acted, and from everything we saw, I was sure we had our first [Africanized honeybee] attack."
Marsha Bryant, whose bee removal company found and disposed of the hidden hive last week, called the test results a blessing, given the swarm's hyper-defensive behavior.
"If these had been Africanized bees, someone would be dead," said Bryant. "No question."