Swarming bees sting numerous kids dozens of times at Topsfield camp, 7-year-old boy hospitalized

One child was rushed to a hospital to be treated for anaphylaxis, officials said

NBC Universal, Inc.

A swarm of bees stung almost two dozen kids, one of whom was hospitalized with a severe allergic reaction, at a summer camp in Topsfield, Massachusetts, on Monday, authorities said.

First responders found that a hive had been disturbed at a Tri-Town Council summer camp robotic and engineering workshop at Trinity Church, the Topsfield police and fire departments said Tuesday. The hive was under a draw bridge in the playground behind the church where the children were taking a break.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Some of the children were stung multiple times, including one boy who was stung 17 times, but all involved are recovering.

The coordinator of the camp called 911 to report that more than 20 children had been stung by bees, with one of the campers showing signs of going into anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that requires medical care, officials said. First responders arrived within two minutes.

The 7-year-old boy was rushed to a hospital to be treated for anaphylaxis, officials said.

Neighbors felt helpless after woman was stung by bees hundreds of times in Riverside County. Tony Shin reports for the NBC4 News on June 29, 2023

A total of 22 students -- grades 1 through 6 -- were found to have been stung, and the two adult instructors were stung, as well.

“Everyone was out there with snacks running around playing and it just turned into a nightmare,” Beth Whalley, Horizon's coordinator for Tri-Town Council, said. “There were multiple bee stings. It was chaos."

Topsfield's fire chief said the bees followed the kids, and that some of them even had bees in their clothes.

Whalley said the boy who suffered an allergic reaction was a trooper.

"He didn’t cry, he was forthcoming, very brave, I rode in the ambulance with him after I spoke to mom and dad. They were at work so they were going to meet us at Beverly ER,” she said.

Topsfield Fire Chief Jen Collins-Brown said the boy's symptoms were typical for an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling, and lower blood pressure.

Camp staff have been credited for their quick actions.

"Their swift and decisive actions in recognizing that a hive had been disturbed and removing all children to safety undoubtedly prevented more serious injuries," police and fire officials said in a statement. "We are grateful for such a supportive and well-trained camp leadership."

Police and fire officials said they were looking forward to seeing these "brave Lego robotics and engineering creators back tomorrow creating great projects."

The fire department says they’ve had a string of bee sting calls within the past week involving children and are warning people to be aware of their surroundings.

“Kids are out playing, kids are on their bikes, it’s great they’re out in the woods, but unfortunately they’re getting into these nests,” the Topsfield fire chief said. "This week we’ve had several calls for multiple children in different places stung multiple times."

The fire chief added that anyone who is allergic to bees should always carry an EpiPen, just in case.

“If you’re unsure if you’re allergic and showing any types of symptoms, you should definitely call 911.”

Contact Us