Tuesday, June 30, 2015
AFRICANIZED BEES AND OTHER HONEY BEES
AFRICANIZED BEES AND OTHER HONEY BEES By Woods Houghton Eddy County Agriculture Agent It’s that time of the year to reflect and review safety precaution involving all bees. Africanized bees are now part of our environment, like rattle snakes, cockroaches, and files, we have to learn to coexist with them and limit adverse interaction with these insects. I publish this news release every year in hope of reducing such incidents. Africanized bees are a much more aggressive honeybee than European bees which are domesticated to produce honey. Africanized are wild bees and are not predators of humans and other life forms. They do not hunt down people to harm them. They do react very aggressively to what they perceive as an attack on their hive. When they are swarming or when they are foraging for food they are not as aggressive as when they have established a hive nearby and are defending that hive. Their venom is no more poisonous then their European counter parts. However, when they react to defend their hive the number of bees responding will be 15 to 30 times as many and can number in the 10s of thousands. What should you do about the Africanized bee? Take some common sense precautions: Make a bee patrol around your home once or twice a week during swarming season (March to October). Listen for the sound of bees in the air. Persistent buzzing may mean a hive or swarm is nearby. This should be done prior to starting a lawn mower or other equipment. Lawn mowers and equipment with magneto ignition systems seem to irritate bees both African and domestic. A Bee-proof your home by filling in potential nesting sites such as tree cavities and holes in outside walls. Put screen on the top of rain spouts and over water meter boxes in the ground. Remove piles of trash and junk. If you discover a bee colony, don't disturb it. Find out who removes or destroys wild colonies in your area and report it to them. A list of pest control operators and beekeepers that have been trained to remove bees is available from the extension office. These businesses do charge for their services. The property owners where the bees are located are responsible for their removal. The fire department, the county vector control, and extension office do NOT remove hives unless it is an emergency, someone under attack. If you see a bee colony on public property notify the agency responsible for management of that property. If it is at a city park, call the city, if it is BLM land call the BLM etc. If attacked by honeybees, your best defense is to run away as fast as you can. Seek shelter immediately in a building, a car, or heavy brush. Protect your face and neck the best you can. Standing still and calm does not work with Africanized bees they are aggressive, domestic bees are different in this behavior. DO NOT SWAT or KILL BEES sting you or someone else. This will increase the ferocity of the attack. The major immediate danger is being stung on the face and neck causing swelling and collapsing of the air way. The average 150 pound person can take about 200 stings before the venom toxin is dangerous, but it only takes a few stings to cause swelling and blockage of the air passage. Protect your face and neck! If you are stung many times or have an allergic reaction seek medical attention immediately. If you observe someone being stung, and they are unable to run or seek shelter, call 911 and report it. If you go to rescue them with out protection you will be attacked as well. DO NOT CALL 911 to report bees unless it is life threatening. This is only for life threatening situations where a person is being stung or has been stung and is in shock, respiratory failure etc. If you are allergic to bee stings, or think you might be, consult you physician for the best precautions to take. More people probably will be stung by bees. These insects are established in Eddy County and will be apart of our ecosystem for now on. Some individuals may be stung hundreds of times in only a few moments. The Africanized bee’s killer reputation is greatly exaggerated, but it does have basis in fact. People have and will die from their attack. Most often the persons or animals that have died were not able to get away from the bees quickly. It does not have to greatly change the way people live and work and play. People in south and Central America have lived with this insect for several decades without great difficulty, but some people are injured every year. For more information Contact your Local County Extension office. Eddy County Extension Service, New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. All programs are available to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. New Mexico State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Eddy County Government Cooperating.