FICTION…. In the movie, The Swarm, great clouds of angry bees attack entire cities and stung hundreds of people to death. This is pure fiction. It could never happen. But folklore like this has arisen within the last twenty years regarding the Africanized Bee sometimes called "Killer Bee".
In the beginning.. Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) -- also called Africanized bees or killer bees -- are descendants of southern African bees imported in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.Honey When some of these bees escaped quarantine in 1957, they began breeding with local Brazilian honey bees, quickly multiplying and extended their range throughout South and Central America at a rate greater than 200 miles per year. In the past decade, AHB began invading North America. Africanized bees acquired the name killer bees because they will viciously attack people and animals who unwittingly stray into their territory, often resulting in serious injury or death. In May of 1991, Jesus Diaz became the first person to be attacked by AHB in the U.S. while mowing a lawn in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. Diaz suffered 18 stings and was treated at a local hospital. On July 15, 1993, 82-year-old Lino Lopez became the first person to die in the U.S. from Africanized honey bee stings. He was stung more than 40 times while trying to remove a colony from a wall in an abandoned building on his ranch near Harlingen, Texas.
The Africanized bee escaped and began to dominate the honey bee. The new hybrid, called an Africanized Bee, took many years but it established colonies throughout South and Central America. The bee is aggressive, easily agitated, and generally a bee with a bad attitude.
Where are they??? The Africanized bee as expected, spread across the southern part of the country, where the winters aren't so harsh. Some scientists and entomologists believe that the Africanized bees will be able to adapt to colder weather and roam as far north as Montana.
COLONY LIFE The four life stages of a Africanized Bee include egg, larva, pupa and adult. It takes about twenty-one days for a regular worker to fully develop from an egg, sixteen days for a queen, and twenty-four days for a drone. Drones usually live five to ten weeks. Workers usually live fifty days. All the workers are females Queens live an average of one to three years. There is only one surviving queen bee in each colony. She mates with many drones (male bees), and may lay 1500 eggs per day.
swa When the beehive is overpopulated, Africanized Bees swarm to a local area to start a new hive. Too much warm or cold weather may cause swarming. Only one queen bee will rule. When the two queens reach the adult stage, they battle to the death for control of the hive. The cycle of swarming continues until the hive is worn out. If you are in the path of a swarm of Africanized Bees, you have a seventy-five percent chance of a deadly attack. SWARMING
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?? European Honey Bees Pollinate flowers and crops Calmed by smoke Swarm only when crowded Africanized Bees More aggressive Attack in larger groups Make less honey Make less wax Hate high pitched sounds Swarm more often
What causes bees to attack? Africanized bees react to disturbance around the hive. They can stay angry for days after being disturbed. If one bee stings, it releases an alarm that smells like bananas. This pheromone causes the other bees to become agitated and sting. The Africanized Bee, like the honey bee, dies when it stings. The tiny barbs on the stinger stick in the victim. When the bee tries to fly away, it rips its abdomen and eventually dies. Under usual circumstances, the result is discomfort for the human but death for the bee.
The Attack!!! An extremely aggressive Africanized bee colony may attack any 'threat' within 100 ft. and pursue for up to one-fourth a mile. Generally, Africanized bees attack: only when the colony is threatened when loud noises, strong odors or fragrances, shiny jewelry, and dark clothes are perceived as threats the face and ankles
When your attacked?? Africanized bees are slow fliers and most healthy people can out run them. Run away in a straight line, protecting your face. Avoid other people, or they too will be attacked. Do not try and hide underwater. The Africanized bee swarm will wait for you to surface.
If your stung…….. Seek medical attention. Some people are allergic to bee stings causing anaphylactic shock. Since Africanized bees attack and sting in great numbers, it is possible that an allergic response may be triggered.
F.A.Q…… Q : How much honey does a European bee colony produce compared to an African bee colony? A: European bee colony produces five times more honey than a Africanized bee colony. Q : What is anaphylactic shock? A: Most cells release histamine and other biologically active substances. The venom promotes histamine release from mast cells and basophils (especially in sensitized individuals), which under the right circumstances, can lead to vasodilation and loss of blood pressure. If this response is not reversed within a short time, the person may die of shock.
FAQ II Q : Why does one third of the U.S. food production depend on bees? A: Bees pollinate flowers that turn into fruit and vegetables, plants and trees. (natural/organic foods) Q : How does a queen bee control her nest? A: The queen releases a pheromone that identifies her as the queen. Q : What happened to Brazil's honey production as a result of the introduction of killer bees? A: Brazil went from fourth in world honey production to twenty-seventh by the early 1990's.
Why is the bee so angry? Q : Why is the Africanized bee so defensive? Color, size and shape are traits that bees pass along from generation to generation through genes contained in cells. The Africanized bee is a dangerous hybrid, passing down the trait of defensiveness to each offspring.
Plans to stop them…. Entomologists in Texas are working hard to track the northward spread of Africanized bees. The bees are tracked with traps. Usually these traps are nothing more than cardboard boxes covered with blue protective plastic, hung in trees. The traps are baited with a liquid similar to the pheromone that directs a swarm looking for a home. In Texas, more than 1,200 bee traps have been set along hundreds of miles of roadway. European honey bee sperm is inserted into a Africanized bee queen. The queen is then released into the wild. Scientists are hoping the injected Killer Bee queen will produce less aggressive bees and pass the gene to the offspring. So far, not enough queens have been released into the wild to determine if this plan will be successful.
What is Bee Venom? Bee venom is a complex composition of enzymes, proteins and amino acids. It is a colorless clear liquid, with a sweet taste and a little bitter. It is soluble in water, insoluble in alcohol and ammonium sulphate. If is comes in contact with air, it forms, opaque or grayish-white crystals.
What type of conditions is Bee venom used to treat? Bee venom simulates the release of cortisone (cortisol) and is therefore effective in the treatment of rheumatic diseases, especially arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). It can be applied directly or by intramuscular injections. Other treatments, such as electrotherapy, hormone therapy, can help to eliminate particular deformations, improve joint movement and raise the general state of the organism. Two products developed in Bucharest, an ointment - Apireven - and a liniment both have been used successfully in several cases of rheumatoid polyarthritis. The results have shown an important reduction in muscular pain, sciatic pain, nerve pain, neuromialgias and intercostal and bronchial nerve pain. Applying the venom topically can provide a long-lasting effect and can offer significant benefits in arthritic and rheumatic conditions.
U.S. BEEKEEPERS WORRIED? The bad temper of the Africanized bee, coupled with its ability to dominate a honey bee region and reduce honey bee production, makes beekeepers anxious. Americans eat about 275 million pounds of honey each year. Beehive products also include wax used in candles, polish, and floor wax. Scientists disagree on the Africanized bee's ability to adapt to new environments nor how widely it will range. Also of concern is the possibility of relocating Africanized bee hives without causing an angry swarm.
The need for the Bee…. Honey bees pollinate 1/3 of all the worlds natural foods & more importantly “more than ½ of all Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavors” rely on them.
How can I avoid an encounter with unfriendly Africanized honey bees? The best safety advice is to avoid an encounter with unfriendly Africanized Bees. Be alert for danger. Remember that AHB sting to defend their colony, so be on the look out for honey bee swarms and colonies.
Protecting yourself ….. Be alert for bees coming in and out of an opening such as a crack in a wall, or the hole in a utility box. Listen for the hum of an active bee colony. Look for bees in holes in the ground, holes in trees or cacti, and in sheds. Be extra careful when moving junk that has been lying around. Be alert for bees that are acting strangely. Quite often bees will display some preliminary defensive behavior before going into a full-fledged attack.
FYI……. When you are outdoors, in a rural area, a park or wilderness reserve, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bees the way you would watch out for snakes and other natural dangers. Don't panic at the sight of a few bees foraging in the flowers. Bees are generally very docile as they go about their normal activities.
How can I reduce the chance Africanized honey bees will attack me if they are around me? Wear light-colored clothing. Bees tend to attack dark things. Dark clothing, dark hair, any thing dark in color could draw the animus of AHB. Bees are sensitive to odors, both pleasant and unpleasant. The smell of newly cut grass has been shown to disturb honey bees. Avoid wearing floral or citrus aftershaves or perfume. Check your house and yard at least once a month to see if there are any signs of bees taking up residence. If you do find a swarm or colony, leave it be and keep family and pets away. Find a pest control company or a local beekeeper to solve the problem. To help prevent honey bees from building a colony in your house or yard, fill all cracks and crevices in walls with steel wool and caulk. Remove piles of refuse, honey bees will nest in an old soda can or an overturned flower pot. Fill holes in the ground. When hiking, avoid hiking off trails. Bring some bug spray, bee spray, a GPS, and your cell phone with you just in case. Be alert for bees acting strangely. If one or two start to bump at you, especially at your head, take notice and possibly vacate the vicinity.
Remember….. It is not necessary to disturb the hive itself to initiate an AHB attack. In fact, Africanized bees have been know to respond viciously to mundane occurrences, including noises or even vibrations from vehicles, equipment and pedestrians. Though their venom is no more potent than native honey bees, Africanized bees attack in far greater numbers and pursue perceived enemies for greater distances. Once disturbed, colonies may remain agitated for 24 hours, attacking people and animals within a range of a quarter mile from the hive.venom The Africanized bee is widely feared by the public, a reaction that has been amplified by sensationalist movies and some of the media reports. Stings from Africanized bees kill 1-2 people per year in the United States, a rate that makes them more dangerous than venomous snakes, particularly since, unlike snakes, they are found only in a small portion of the country.venomoussnakes