Mario Salinas Sr. was at his double-wide trailer with his wife and children this Father’s Day as one of his daughters, Kristina Salinas, mowed the lawn in preparation for her 16th birthday party.
When his daughter tired in the heat, he offered to take over the chore.
“He was a selfless person,” said his wife, Cecilia Cathcart Salinas. “He was a good father and husband.”
Not long after, Salinas said her husband ran back into their trailer with bees in his hair. He died after the attack.
In the last few weeks, multiple members of their family have been stung by bees at their home near Inez. Salinas was recently stung on her back when she was walking up the steps to her front door. One of her daughters had been stung while out in the yard the week before.
About a week ago, Mario Salinas was stung while cleaning their pool. His wife said he began to feel faint 15 to 20 minutes later.
Salinas said her husband, 59, was in good health. Although she saw at about six dead bees on the floor when he ran back into the trailer on Father’s Day, she suspects he was stung many more times than that.
Mario Salinas left the lawn mower in the grass about 15 feet from where they now know a hive is established in the insulation beneath their double-wide trailer.
“Every year we’ve had bees, but we’ve never had them like this,” Salinas said.
Cary Voss, who owns Pleasant Green Apiary, a live bee removal service in the Crossroads, said he’s never responded to a case in which someone was killed by bees, although he’s heard of such incidents and has responded to cases where animals were killed.
“Once a colony gets established,” Voss said, “that’s when a colony can become aggressive.”
Infamous “Africanized” bees, which Salinas said she believes are responsible for the attack, are the same species, Apis mellifera, as honeybees, Voss said. The only difference is behavior.
“Some colonies are genetically hostile, but sometimes it’s just a day-to-day aberration,” Voss said.
The 40 or so removals he’s done this year have mostly been docile hives, Voss said. In addition to genetic aggression levels, bees can become agitated because of the heat, which can cause comb collapse in the hive, and high moisture levels.
The best way to deal with a beehive in an unwanted area is to call a professional bee removal service, Voss said. The only way to ensure bees don’t repopulate the space, Voss said, is to fill it in after removal, and he hopes people opt for live removal.
“I give them massive kudos that in the face of their tragedy, their knee-jerk reaction isn’t just to call an exterminator and wipe them out,” Voss said.
As they wait for the bees to be removed so they can return home, Salinas said her family is trying to stay strong. At their Saturday night birthday celebration for Kristina, who turned 16 on Friday, they released balloons in memory of their lost husband and father.
Mario will be remembered as a good-humored man who liked the song “Low Rider” and made references to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” Salinas said.
“He was the love of my life,” she said.