Three horses were killed after being attacked by a swarm of thousands of killer bees at a Tasmanian property on Friday afternoon.
The rodeo horses - named Solomon, Anita and Bella - had been overwhelmed by the sheer number of bees during the attack at Mount Hicks and sustained a huge number of stings, from which they couldn't recover.
Property owner Harold Chilcott rushed out to his yard after hearing a commotion coming from outside.
``I could hear them (the horses) carrying on, they were riddled with bees,'' he said.
Mr Chilcott called the vet, and while trying to assist the horses himself, also sustained a significant number of stings.
All efforts were made to save the horses but it was to no avail.
``We haven't got a clue what done it (caused the bees to attack),'' he said.
Mr Chilcott said it had been a saddening time, as the horses belonged to his son-in-law but were being kept at the property.
He said the two oldest horses were worth about $10,000 each.
``We are pretty upset about it, it's just really sad,'' he said.
``I've had horses in my dreams.''
Mr Chilcott said while bees had been visible around the property on some occasions, he had never seen anything like this in 20 years living there.
``It's quite rare,'' he said.
Mr Chilcott buried the horses on Saturday.
Fortunately, two ponies who are also kept at the property were uninjured.
Wynyard veterinarian Graham Harrison was called to the scene and described it as ``raining bees.''
``It was almost like a battlefield,'' he said.
``There would have been tens of thousands of them.
``There was a mass of them everywhere, they were going berserk, all over the windscreen of the car when I was driving towards the horses.''
Dr Harrison said it was unusual to hear of a case of animals dying from bee stings but said the sheer number of stings was too much for the horses to handle.
``They were just overcome by it,'' he said.
``It affects them the same as it would humans if they got so many stings, they would die.''
Dr Harrison was at a loss to explain what may have caused the commotion.
``It is rare for this to happen, we don't know what started them off all of a sudden,'' he said.
He said one horse had almost already passed away by the time he arrived at the property while the other two died later.
``It was pretty horrible,'' he said.
Flowerdale beekeeper Peter Ewington was surprised to hear of such an occurrence, saying it was rare to hear of animals dying as a result of bee stings.
``It could have been the smell of the sweat which upset the bees, I'm not sure,'' he said.
``But when a bee stings, it hurts.''