Firemen battled flames and swarms of angry honey bees at Davenport's beehive workshop in Springfield, Ohio, in June 1891.
The San Francisco Call published an account of the strange incident its it July 13, 1891 edition, first reported by The New York World:
Springfield (Ohio), June 27 - A dozen Springfield firemen are covered with soda poultices and slices of fresh onions as a result of fighting a queer combination of bees and blazes late the other night during the fire at Davenport's beehive workshop.
As soon as it was seen that the workshop would be burned to the ground, Davenport called to the firemen that sixteen hives of valuable honey-bees near the shop would be burned. Firemen, neighbors and the proprietor at one began moving the hives to a place of safety.
Soon the firemen commenced to feel sharp stings on their hands and faces. At first they attributed it to the sparks which were flying thick through the smoky air. Presently, however, they were aware that they had disturbed the midsummer dreams of sixteen hives of furious bees. The bees meant business, and plied their stings without mercy. The firemen were forced to fight the flames and bees both together, and by the time the fire was out they were beside themselves with pain.
The faces of the men were literally covered with lumps where they were stung. There was amusing stampede of the big crowd watching the fire when some one yelled: "The bees are loose!" - Springfield (Ohio) Special to N.Y. World