Africanized Honey Bees - Alabama Cooperative Extension System by jlhd32


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									                                      A L A B A M A   A & M   A N D   A U B U R N   U N I V E R S I T I E S

                                      Honey Bees
I n October 1990, the first
  swarm of Africanized honey
bees to move naturally from
                                      my each year. European honey
                                      bees performed well in regions
                                      of North America with climates
                                                                               Africanized honey bees also
                                                                           tend to swarm more often and
                                                                           to nest in open areas such as
Mexico into the United States         similar to regions of Europe, but    beneath tree limbs or unusual
was found and destroyed in            they did not perform well in         areas such as storage buildings,
southern Texas. Since then,           tropical South America.              old tires, trash cans, and vacant
Africanized honey bees have                In 1956, researchers import-    underground animal nests. This
been moving gradually toward          ed honey bees from Africa to         behavior results in a great num-
Alabama.                              Brazil in an effort to produce a     ber of colonies, which increases
    It is impossible to predict ex-   honey bee better suited to the       the chance of human encoun-
actly when or where Africanized       South American tropics. They         ters. However, bees in these
honey bees will enter Alabama.        were successful. The African         less-suitable nesting sites are
However, traps for these bees         honey bees adapted well to           more susceptible to freezing
are located around the state, so      South America and began to           temperatures and chemical treat-
the public will be informed           either displace or mix with          ments.
when they arrive. If they do get      European honey bees (hence the
to Alabama, they are most likely      name “Africanized” honey bees),      Avoiding Africanized
to enter the southern coastal         spreading northward at a rate of
                                      about 200 to 300 miles per year.
                                                                           Honey Bees
counties first. Although these
bees do not bring widespread          Unfortunately, Africanized honey         Established Africanized
chaos and destruction, dramatic       bees have some undesirable           honey bee colonies are often
and widely publicized stinging        traits.                              called “swarms.” In reality, a true
incidents sometimes occur.                                                 swarm is a dispersal stage, when
                                                                           the bees are moving to find a
                                      Comparison Of                        new nest. Swarming bees are
Honey Bee History                     Africanized And                      not likely to sting because they
    To understand Africanized         European Honey Bees                  have no nest to defend.
honey bees, it is important to                                             Similarly, individual foraging
                                           European honey bees and
know that honey bees are not                                               bees pose no threat to non-
                                      Africanized honey bees are iden-
native to North, Central, or South                                         allergic people. It is established
                                      tical in appearance. The sting
America. Most honey bees in the                                            colonies, where the bees are
                                      from an Africanized honey bee
United States are descendants                                              producing wax, honey, and
                                      is the same as that of a Euro-
from colonies brought to North                                             young that may be a potential
                                      pean honey bee. Both types of
America by European settlers be-                                           stinging threat.
                                      honey bees can be managed for
ginning in the 1600s.                                                          In the future if Africanized
                                      honey production and pollina-
    Unlike many of the insects        tion of plants.                      honey bees become established
brought by the settlers, which                                             in your area, you will need to be
                                           Africanized honey bees,
became serious pests, European                                             observant for their nests, just as
                                      however, are more defensive.
honey bees became one of the                                               you are observant for certain
                                      Large numbers may sting peo-
most economically beneficial in-                                            snakes or fire ants. Learn to rec-
                                      ple, pets, and livestock if the
sects in the New World. Honey,                                             ognize the honey bee. Do not
                                      bees feel that their colony is
beeswax, and bee pollination of                                            climb a tree, disturb a stump, or
                                      threatened. Because of this trait,
many important agricultural                                                move trash until you first check
                                      the media started to call
crops contributes billions of dol-                                         to see if bees are flying in and
                                      Africanized honey bees “killer
lars to the United States econo-                                           out. If you see any bees, no mat-

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ter what type they are, simply
avoid direct contact with them.
Generally, if you leave them
alone, they will leave you alone.
     If you plan to be outside in
a rural area where Africanized
honey bees are known to occur,
try to wear light-colored, loose-
fitting clothing. This clothing will
not completely protect you from                                                                 A nest of Africanized honey bees
                                                                                                under a discarded tire. The nest was
attack, but it can decrease the in-                                                             only a few feet away from an elemen-
tensity of the attack. Since at-                                                                tary school playground.
tacking bees often sting around
the head, take head protection
                                                                                                Who Can Help You
(such as a light-colored hat or
large kerchief) with you on                                                                          Alabama Regulatory Officials
walks or hikes. You may also              Fully protected beekeepers in an                      and Alabama Cooperative
want to carry a repellent.                Africanized honey bee yard. Though                    Extension System personnel will
Repellent sprays containing               necessary, protective clothing is very                know if Africanized honey bees
DEET have some effect against             hot to wear.                                          reach your area. Check with
the bees when sprayed into the                                                                  these agencies if you have ques-
air around you, but they are not          course away from the area. If                         tions. Control of Africanized
effective if sprayed on your skin.        your friend falls or gets trapped,                    honey bee colonies should be
                                          he or she will need help, but re-                     done only by trained pest con-
If You Are Attacked                       member you will be risking your                       trol operators, beekeepers, or
                                          own safety. Cover your head                           state officials.
    If you inadvertently provoke          and use your repellent spray as
an attack, run. Never stand in                                                                       Finally, it is important to
                                          you approach your friend. If you                      know that beekeepers with
one place or swat at the bees.            can not pull him or her away
The bees want you away from                                                                     European honey bees are proba-
                                          from the area, cover your friend                      bly your best defense against
their nest, and it is best to oblige
                                          with anything you have, such as                       Africanized honey bees. Without
them. Try to run in a straight line       leaves, blankets, or clothes, until
while protecting your head. Run                                                                 beekeepers, the number of
                                          the bees stop their attack.                           docile European honey bees in
to a protected area, such as a car             Most non-allergic individuals                    Alabama would decrease, leav-
or building, or into the woods,           with few stings do not need spe-
where trees will help to confuse                                                                ing more areas for Africanized
                                          cial medical attention. However,                      honey bees to infest. Beekeepers
the bees. If available, use your          if you have any concerns at all,
repellent spray.                                                                                have the knowledge to help you
                                          you should see a doctor immedi-                       and the resources to limit the ad-
    If you are with someone               ately following a stinging                            verse impact of Africanized
who is attacked and becomes               episode. Of course, allergic peo-
                                                                                                honey bees.
disoriented, shout to the person          ple should never work with
and try to lead him or her on a           honey bees, Africanized or

                              Revised by James Tew, Beekeeping Consultant for Auburn University, Associate
                              Professor, Entomology, Ohio State University. Originally prepared by James Cane,
                              Associate Professor, Entomology, Auburn University; and Eric Benson, former
                              Extension Entomologist.
                              For more information, call your county Extension office. Look in your telephone di-
                              rectory under your county’s name to find the number.
                              Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work in agriculture and home economics, Acts of May 8 and June
                              30, 1914, and other related acts, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Alabama
                              Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) offers educational programs,
                              materials, and equal opportunity employment to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, religion,
             ANR-765          sex, age, veteran status, or disability.                            UPS, 10M10, Revised Dec 1997, ANR-765

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