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Tina Hill attacked by swarm of bees in Preston near Canterbury

By Emma Grafton-Williams

Tina Hill, 50, was walking through a field in Preston near Canterbury when she was suddenly surrounded by the insects. She and her friend Sue were stung repeatedly on their faces and necks in the field in Grove Road.

“Hundreds of bees were on my head, face and my neck – they were trying to get into my mouth,” Tina said.

Tina Hill at hospital after she was stung by bees in a field near Grove Road

Tina Hill at hospital after she was stung by bees in a field near Grove Road

“It was like something out of a horror film. The pain was like the worst migraine in the world combined with intense sunburn.

“The field was marked as a rambler route so we hadn’t thought anything of it when we first went down there.”

Tina, who is a therapist, ran to the nearest house and a man took them into his home.

She said: “When I got to his doorstep I just collapsed. The man who took us in moved us around from room to room – after they stung me they would die and he was getting rid of them after.

The entrance to the field where Tina Hill was attacked

The entrance to the field where Tina Hill was attacked

“It was carnage, there were all these dead bees over the floor – it was them or me.”

The pair were visiting Canterbury for a friend’s 70th birthday weekend, enjoy exploring rambler walks.

Tina is calling for the Ramblers Association, now called The Ramblers, to erect warning signs.

She went on: “There should be a sign up there where there is a walkway. If it was child and they got stung that would kill them. There should be something – a warning to let people know of the bees.

"You see things like this on films, it was terrifying – they were relentless" - Tina Hill

“If it wasn’t for the man who let us into his home, I don’t think I would be here. You see things like this on films, it was terrifying – they were relentless”.

The pair were taken to the urgent care unit at Kent and Canterbury hospital where doctors removed 57 stings from Tina’s face and neck.

She says the doctors were stunned. “They hadn’t seen anything like that before. They said I had a good heart and I would recover.

Mrs Hill, who lives in Romford, was discharged from hospital 24 hours later but still has a numb face and mouth.

Tina was left with a numb face and mouth after suffering bee stings on a walk

Tina was left with a numb face and mouth after suffering bee stings on a walk

She added: “It was surreal. I feel very lucky and blessed someone took us in when we were surrounded by bees. Such kindness – these days you don’t get that and for him to take me and my friend in, covered in bees.

“I keep thinking how lucky I was. It’s restored my faith in people.”

Canterbury Beekeepers Association member Michael Roberts says the level of bee stings Mrs Hill endured can be life-threatening.

“That level of bee stinging is life-threatening and very unusual.

“Bees normally only sting if you disturb them, but may also do so if you get too close to their hive entrance and in particular their line of flight for pollen and nectar.

A swarm of bees. Library image.

A swarm of bees. Library image.

“The problem is that a bee dies when it stings so for them it is a last resort. One sting attracts other bees and promotes another sting – as pheromones are released by a dying bee.

"If you try and fend off bees by flailing your arms it just exacerbates the problem further and scent or aftershave tends to attract bees too. The best advice is to walk away quickly on the first sting.

Nature Notes columnist Peter Gay says: “If the bees come from a hive if they’re disturbed they will sting.

"I wonder whether these bees were beginning to move around in colonies. If they are disturbed they can really get quite wild. The bees could be swarming to find a new colony.”

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