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Michigan man badly burned after trying to smoke out swarm of bees

DOWAGIAC, MI. -- A Michigan man is on the mend ,after a botched attempt to kill bees, that were invading his back yard.

Investigators tell ABC57 News, he tried smoking them out, but ended up setting himself on fire. 

"I've heard people try to do that. The bees must have been really bothering them, that he tried to take care of it himself," says Marion Jones.

Jones lives just across the street from 46-year-old Leslie Cross.

She also sees a lot of bees. 

In the backyard of Cross' Dowagiac home, is a hive.

"I know bees go underground," says Jones. I know enough people who say boy, I have to stay away from that."

It's a hive in the ground, still full of bees.

Cross' mission was unsuccessful: attempting to smoke them out late Wednesday night. 

All that is left, are burnt scraps of clothing, a melted gas can, and a trampled charcoal lighter.

A family member told ABC57 News, off-camera, that 60% of Cross' body is badly burned. 

He is currently sedated, and doctors told family that he has a long road ahead of him.

Family explained that everything happened so quickly, they don't really know how Cross set himself on fire.

Jones is hoping that Cross, and his family, will be able to get through this.

But most importantly, she hopes that people learn something.

"I would hire a professional person to take care of that," says Jones. "Take a lesson from this. Find out how to take care of a problem like that, so it doesn't happen to them."

A lot of people go to Tim Ives when their homes are invaded by bees. 

He is a beekeeper. 

"This time of year, I get quite a few calls [saying] 'I've got bees!" says Ives. " The reaction is to get rid of them, and a lot of people try burning them." 

Based on video ABC57 News showed Ives, he believes the hive at Cross' home is either filled with carpenter bees or bumble bees. 

While a lot of people do believe that smoking out the swarm is the best option, he says that's not entirely true.

And it could be dangerous.

"Bees communicate by pheromones. So, you're basically just confusing their communication," explains Ives. "They don't really leave. If you smoke them enough, you drive them deeper in the hive. If you smoke them really hard, they think there's a fire. If you smoke them enough, they probably will end up totally leaving the colony."

The best option Ives recommends?

Call an exterminator.  

He says they are the ones who should figure out the best, and safest, way to get rid of the bees. 

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