Thursday, August 10, 2006

Facts: Africanized Honeybee

(from the Texas A&M Extension Service)

Facts about the bees:

Africanized bees are more defensive than regular honeybees. Each bee has the same amount of venom as a regular honeybee, and stings only once, but attacks usually involve many more bees and result in many more stings.

Things that can trigger an Africanized bee attack include (but are not limited to):

Vibrations from engines

Intrusion into defended space or a direct threat to the hive

Swatting of one bee (which then releases an alarm chemical)

Loud noises

Bees can nest in many areas including tree holes, swing set poles, shrubbery, bird houses, abandoned vehicles, sheds, stock tanks, etc. Be especially watchful of your yard, stock tanks and neighborhood. Remove all debris that can shelter bees.

Bees often swarm and aggregate on tree branches, fences, or shrubs. Such swarms usually leave in one to two days and do not normally require control actions. However, late summer swarms should be treated with caution because this trait is uncommon in European bees, but more common in Africanized bees.

Bees are attracted to water sources, so repair leaky faucets and irrigation systems. Place two tablespoons of vinegar in bird baths and pet watering bowls to make water unattractive to bees.

How to handle a bee attack:

Seek shelter indoors at the first sign of any bee attack. If you are away from a building, get inside a vehicle if possible. Africanized bees may pursue a person for 150 yards or more. Running is not the best option if shelter is available.

Bees will not enter water, so partial relief may be found by diving under water if it is available.

Attack events may continue for more than one hour.

Very young and very old people are most susceptible to bee venom. Any bee attack should be treated as a potentially serious medical situation, especially if it involves young or old people. Seek medical attention immediately.

Hypersensitive people should consider carrying an anaphylactic shock kit that is available by prescription from a doctor.

As a rule, some farm animals and pets do not know to run in an attack, and may instead try to defend themselves. This usually results in many more stings. Veterinarians are able to help these animals in most cases. Keep pets indoors when using brushcutters, lawnmowers or weedeaters as these may provoke bee attacks. Do not pen animals near bee hives.

Tips for controlling Africanized bees:

It is very unwise to attempt to control a colony of Africanized bees without the proper protective equipment. If control measures need to be taken and there is concern about aggressive bees, a Pest Management Provider should be contacted.

Infestations in the walls of a house are very serious and should be dealt with by a pest management professional. To prevent colonization, fill all holes 1/8 inch or larger in homes or outbuildings. Caulk cracks in the foundation or roof. Properly cover chimney openings. Put screens over drains, attic vents, irrigation control boxes, etc. Keep doors to outbuildings closed and locked.

How to get your bees identified:

Your local Extension Service does not collect bees and does not attempt to control bees. Their role is to serve as an information source for people with questions about bees. If you have suspect bees, I strongly recommend that you consult a professional trained to work with bees, such as a pest control operator. Call your county extension office for more information. Degree of Africanization cannot be determined with the naked eye, but requires laboratory examination. Samples can be collected by a Pest Management Provider or individuals with the proper protective equipment.

You must send at least 50 bees to the lab in order for them to give you their best answer. This is because they must examine a group of bees and not just one or a few bees. Submissions of less than 50 bees will result in more uncertainty in the answer.

Other Information:
Regular (European) honeybees are very valuable pollinators and should be preserved. There is no need to destroy most colonies of regular honeybees. Insect repellents do not deter bee attacks.

Never provoke bees by spraying them with a garden hose or chemicals.

Some veterinary salves and creams are made with a beeswax base. It is possible that these could increase the severity of an Africanized bee attack

No comments: