The honeybee was introduced to North America by European
settlers hundreds of years ago. Since then it has been a valued partner
pollinating our crops and providing us with honey. For those of us who love the outdoors they have also
been a source of entertainment. Just watching them diligently going about
their task can be a pleasant distraction.
But in 1990 a new kid arrived on the block and nothing will ever be the same
Although attempts have been made to educate the public
about Killer Bees most people have gotten their information from bad B
movies. Get it? Bee movies? Sorry. Well, I wanted to know some more
accurate information so Idecided to visit the Department of
Agriculture to get the straight scoop.
Since the Department of Agriculture
has traditionally given out permits to beekeepers it has fallen to them to
deal with the Killer bee problem.
David Bert ... I guess the first
question I should ask is what are killer bees and how that they differ from
the bee that we've grown up with?
Gina Stoneking...killer bees are actually honeybees, and that really
surprises a lot of people. They think that killer bees are really big
horrible ugly looking things, but they're actually honeybees and they
actually produce honey and they pollinate our flowers and our gardens.
They're just a more defensive honeybee.
David Bert ...Ahh, so it's not necessarily more aggressive its just more
Gina Stoneking... Right. It doesn't have the aggressive behavior. It's just
more defensive of its brood and it's a honey that it's put so much energy
David Bert ... so I guess where
we've heard the word aggressive is that they
aggressively defend and that's the point. As long as we're staying away
from their hive were pretty much OK?
Gina Stoneking ... Right. If you leave them alone they'll leave you
David Bert ... OK. So, let's say I accidentally stepped to their
territory. Or squash a bee by mistake. They're coming after me. What do I do?
Gina Stoneking ... Well if you're around a hive and you accidentally
disturbed that hive you want to leave that area immediately. You don't one
hang around. Those hives are real defensive and the will intensively defend
themselves. Normally, a European honeybee hive you can avoid real easily.
And an accidental disturbance didn't result in too many stings. But with
these Africanized bees an accidental disturbance can result in thousands of
bees being really angry so leaving that area is the best thing to do.
David Bert ... You make it sound very polite, but leaving the area means
Gina Stoneking ... Run away from that hive yes
David Bert ... Very fast and as far away as it takes until they stop flying
Gina Stoneking ... Right they are fairly slow fliers. They will not out
fly you, but they do defended territory. So that's a good thing. You can outrun
David Bert ... OK, I read that to if I'm being chased I need to pull my shirt
up over my head. Why is that?
Gina Stoneking ... The Africanized bee has developed the ability to detect
the carbon dioxide that a person or animal releases from their eyes and nose
and mouth. So that is also the most vulnerable area. So covering your face
is the best idea to avoid getting so many stings.
David Bert ... So, run, pull my shirt up over my head, and keep running. Now when I was a kid they told us that we
should jump into a lake. No, huh?
Gina Stoneking ... No, they can track where you go, so if you jump in the
lake and go underwater you'll have to come up for air and the Africanized
bees will be there waiting for you. So that's really not the best thing
to do. You want to leave the area. Because if you jump in the water, you're
kinda stuck there and trapped there.
David Bert ... In fact didn't one gentleman die drowning because he couldn't
get out of the water.
Gina Stoneking... Yeah, I think that was the case.
David Bert ... This little conversation is going to bring up far more
questions than it's going to answer
for the public. How can they go about finding more detailed information?
Gina Stoneking ... Well anybody who wants more information is more than
welcome to call the Nevada Department of Agriculture and they can ask for me, Gina Stoneking. Our number is 486-4690. There's also
different Web siteaddresses to look up. Texas A&M is one of them. Arizona also has some
excellent Web sites with information. I wouldn't believe everything you see
on the Internet but those specific University Web sites are wonderful.
David Bert ... Africanized honeybees are here to stay. There's no getting around it, but
here in the southwest we've successfully coexisted with far more dangerous
critters than bees. So it's best to just accept it and do everything you can
to educate yourself about them. The truth is that bees are still our
partners. So if you want to worry about something worry about the fact that
you're three times more likely to be hit by lightening that you are to die
from a bee attack.
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