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Thread: Africanized

  1. #1

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    I see references to where Africanized bees are or are not at times on this forum. Some of thes states of the posters seem further north than I realized. People also seem weary of TX queen sources.

    For many of these claims I find myself doubtful. The last time I remember, AHB were in Texas, maybe CA. Does anyone have any official source that shows where they have been found? For those of you that suspect some AHB genes in your more northen bees have you had them tested?

    I've wondered myself why some of my hives are aggressive, defensive, stinging me so much. If it bothers me I just requeen.

    ------------------
    Joe Miller
    nursebee@juno.com

  2. #2
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    >For those of you that suspect some AHB genes in your more northen bees have you had them tested?

    As I understand there is no genetic test for AHB. There is a FABIS test which will identify most any regressed small cell bee as AHB regardless of it's origins.

    I think some people just have a hot hive and assume it's AHB. The difference between a hot hive and a viscious hive is startling and sobering. There have always been some mean hives around from time to time but this is a different matter.

  3. #3

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    There are two major queen breeders just north of me who ship all over. We have migratory bee keepers moving into and out of our area and I personally know of a beekeeper who moved away from this area and took some very aggressive hives with him . I would have sold them and bought northern bees. We do africanized bees in the Houston area. In 1977 I had the meanest bees that i have ever seen in my life before the african bee got here maybe they were part of the first african bee invasion. I thought they were normal bees .

  4. #4
    jfischer Guest

    Post

    An up-to-date map is here:
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archiv...4/bees0304.pdf

    I continue to be amazed that certain
    counties in Texas are still considered
    AHB-free, even though they are surrounded
    by counties where AHB has been found.

    More amazing still is that these exact
    counties are where some of the larger
    producers of queens and packages are located.

    This level of luck is just plain amazing.
    (Tongue, meet cheek!)



  5. #5
    Yep, those beekeepers ought to go to Vegas and then retire!
    --
    This past Saturday, I had to kill a colony of mine. It was originally collected from a swarm call I got. This is only the second time I've had to kill a colony during the four years they've been in my area. I'm hoping this frequency doesn't increase.

  6. #6
    jfischer, excellent article; thanks for posting!

    I especially found two things interesting:

    1) the comment that when a queen is AI with a 50/50 mixture of AHB and EHB semen, that she'll preferentially use the AHB semen first, and

    2) the apparent 55-inches of rain (distributed evenly througout the year) barrier to their eastward expansion. This has been a great mystery for a long while, now. The last time I asked this question of an A&M professor (just a few weeks ago), his answer came back as having to do with the prevailing wind currents(!).

    Anyway, I hope everyone reads this article, it's very informative. BTW, my first colony I had to kill (three years ago) was one of the EHB "take overs" by the AHBs (what the article calls "usurpation"). It was in a hive, closest to my house and went from being a "normal" hive to one of terror, all within the span of about a month and a half. And as the article points out, this isn't an uncommon occurance (happening at rates of 20-30%).

  7. #7
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    Comments made on Bee-l some time ago by me. Sounds like we are still saying the same thing.

    ----------
    AHB's (whatever that is) are known to be found in the states of California,
    Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah and Florida. Even found a colony in
    Illinois last year!


    How is it that there are supposedly these random boundaries that no AHB's
    have crossed? Example: No AHB's to deal with right around Navasota, TX, yet
    they can be found much further North, even in mountainous areas with colder
    climates?


    With all the African stock that's been brought in over the years by various
    researchers and scientists and exchanged with various bee breeders in the
    south, we're suppose to believe that no AHB's exist in the Gulf states
    between Florida and western Texas? This, being a much closer match in
    climate for this bee than other states that are quite different.
    ------------


    So I ask again, if identifying AHB is so subjective, what does this say
    about how we have chosen to deal with it? Some have taken the approach that
    the right way is to eradicate all AHB. That raises the question, can they
    all be identified properly first, and then is it even possible to eradicate
    them all ..... NO! So why is this practice still going on? If, on the other
    hand, the way to successfully deal with this situation is in breeding
    (perhaps this is Weavers method), then why is this not made into a major
    issue with all the AHB experts and more written on it? To be fair to all,
    you can't have it both ways. You can't go in and eradicate one beekeepers
    operation because you determine by some means that they are AHB, and then
    the next guy gets overlooked because he might be a breeder or not in the
    "official" AHB zone.
    ----------


    > theories then maybe Dee *could* ship her queens legally out of the AHB
    > quarentine area ? Hmmm.


    Quarantine area? None where they live. Since their bees are officially NOT
    AHB's, that pretty much leaves it open for them to ship where they want.
    Hmmm. Kind of like the Weavers officially not AHB even though AHB is all
    around them. See how that doublespeak comes into play again. Sure is
    frustrating isn't it? Both have AHB's all around yet you seem to say one has

  8. #8

    Question

    > So I ask again, if identifying AHB is so subjective...

    What makes you think that "identifying" AHBs is subjective?

    Do "normal" honeybees sting horses, humans, dogs, etc. TO DEATH with litterally thousands of stings?

    I think, if you've ever been around AHBs, you could readily discern the difference!

    (We're not just talking about a "hot hive"; there is a world of difference).


  9. #9
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    >What makes you think that "identifying" AHBs is subjective? Do "normal" honeybees sting horses, humans, dogs, etc. TO DEATH with litterally thousands of stings?

    Because the criteria has nothing to do with agressivnesss. The FABIS test is simply biometrics and will often identify an EHB that has been regressed to small cell as AHB.

    That's pretty subjective. I don't know of any genetic test for AHB. I hear talk about one, but no one seems able to say for sure what genes are AHB without counting Buckfasts and other bees not considered AHB.
    http://www.beesource.com/pov/ahb/fabismanual.htm
    http://acwm.co.la.ca.us/scripts/AHB.htm

    "The right wing is removed from each and mounted on microscope slides, and the average wing length is calculated. If the average wing length is over 9mm, the bees are European Honey Bees. If the average wing length is under 9mm, the bees are suspect Africanized Honey Bees. They are only suspect AHB because there are some Egyptian Honey Bees in the county that are a domesticated bee but are slightly smaller that the EHB."

    So the small cell bees are all classified as AHB.

    >I think, if you've ever been around AHBs, you could readily discern the difference!

    I agree. The agressiveness is like nothing you've ever imagined before.

    >(We're not just talking about a "hot hive"; there is a world of difference).

    I agree.

    But that is not what is being used to identify them.

  10. #10
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    >People also seem weary of TX queen sources

    It's not Texas, it was one of the Weaver's.

    According to the article the spread seems to have been stemmed by rainfall. I can't help but see the resemblance of AHB zones to the weather zone 7 and 8 map.

    Given that AHB swarm 3 or 4 times a year and the swarms are known to travel up to 60 miles something must be keeeping them out of Oklahoma City besides the tornado and school system.

    I would think that there is an impact by beekeepers on an area by managing hives and bringing in EHB, destroying hot hives and feral AHB hives.

    [This message has been edited by wfarler (edited May 05, 2004).]

  11. #11
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    I doubt that bee management in a given area has much to do with the arrival or supression of the AHB, aka the killer bee.

    Given the fact that the AHB casts more swarms than the domestic bee, and the fact that the AHB drone is more virile there is not a lot that an individual beekeeper can or will do to affect the AHB.

    I was intrigued by the facts cited in the article. I was especially intrigued by the statement that 55 inches per year of rain, fairly evenly distributed, would stop the bee. It apparently needs a dry season.

    Ox

  12. #12
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    From my experience with them it seems the dry season is what causes them to swarm. Maybe they don't spread when they don't get that.

  13. #13
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    Well the feral colony I found certainly can't be an AHB colony as I can walk up to within a couple of feet (30 inches or so) of the hive and they don’t even appear to be getting excited. I even tugged a piece of wire stuck to the top of the hive and they didn’t get upset. However I will be sending off some to be tested when I capture enough. However to me they do seem a lot smaller than the average bee I have flying around my house in the city. If they were to come back as suspect AHB, I doubt I would destroy them unless they became overly aggressive for no reason.

    Problem I see is that since there is no true way to determine scientifically if they are real AHB or not, a lot of good feral bee colonies have been destroyed.

  14. #14
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    >Well the feral colony I found certainly can't be an AHB colony as I can walk up to within a couple of feet (30 inches or so) of the hive and they don’t even appear to be getting excited. I even tugged a piece of wire stuck to the top of the hive and they didn’t get upset. However I will be sending off some to be tested when I capture enough. However to me they do seem a lot smaller than the average bee I have flying around my house in the city.

    A naturally regressed feral EHB colony is smaller and that is the criteria used to identify AHB. So my bet is they will say they are suspected AHB.

    >If they were to come back as suspect AHB, I doubt I would destroy them unless they became overly aggressive for no reason.

    Me either, but I don't put up with a hot hive if I can't figure out the cause and remedy it. I will requeen them.

    >Problem I see is that since there is no true way to determine scientifically if they are real AHB or not, a lot of good feral bee colonies have been destroyed.

    My point exactly.

    I just had my hives inspected and luckily for me they went on temperament. All of them were quite happy and calm that day and so the certificate says there were no suspected AHB. But almost all of mine are small. I was afraid he might pull out the FABIS test and come to a different conclusion.

    Luckily I live where no one believes there are any AHB here even though I had four hives of Buckfast that went absolutely vicious on me two years ago otherwise I’m afraid they would be doing the FABIS test instead.

  15. #15

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    Michael, I believe you've made your point about the regressed sized bees being potentially misidentified. This point is understood and well received (at least by me); but please let us not turn this into another discussion about 4.9 cell sizing!

    The topic is "Africanized" and my posting response to Barry's comment wasn't meant to address the technical, morphological identification of AHBs. It was simply to address his concern that AHBs are somehow difficult to recognize - they are not. And certainly their defensive behavior IS as aspect of their nature that can be used to at least make an initial screening of such.

    In the early days of the AHB invasion, one such test was to take a tennis ball on a string or rope, covered with a black sock and bounce it against the hive entrance then observe the bees' behavior (fortunately, the "technical" identification of AHBs has gotten a little better, albeit, it's not perfect).
    --
    The other comment I'll make (again, to Barry's posting) is the occasional "identification" of isolated instances of AHBs in the north. It has been known for quite awhile that AHB swarms (on rare occasions) can and have "hitched a ride" to northern territories on man-made transportation. I recall where one officially documented case, an AHB swarm was found on a railcar up north that had recently arrived from south Texas. While this is unusual, it served as proof that it can (and does) happen.

    It's my belief that if the AHB boundaries appear "random" to us, it's just that we humans don't have the full understanding of what criteria drives their location selection. This comment is made, obviously, not withstanding the intentional contrivances of man (such as, refusing to identifying AHBs in the same county as a large queen breeder or something as simple as their presence just not being discovered yet).

  16. #16
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    >The topic is "Africanized" and my posting response to Barry's comment wasn't meant to address the technical, morphological identification of AHBs. It was simply to address his concern that AHBs are somehow difficult to recognize - they are not.

    My point is that using the "official" criteria they are difficult to recognize.

    >And certainly their defensive behavior IS as aspect of their nature that can be used to at least make an initial screening of such.

    I agree, but it is not usually being used.

    >In the early days of the AHB invasion, one such test was to take a tennis ball on a string or rope, covered with a black sock and bounce it against the hive entrance then observe the bees' behavior

    I LIKE that test. It's much more useful and wether they are or are not AHB they are mean and should be dealt with anyway.

    >(fortunately, the "technical" identification of AHBs has gotten a little better, albeit, it's not perfect).

    I guess I think it's gotten worse and will now often misidentify survivor feral bees which are our best hope for the genetics we need to handle the problems we now face.

  17. #17

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    Out of all the swarms that we have hived on the last 3 years none have been super mean. none have been like the ones we had in the late 70's which filled our clothes with stingers. you can walk infront of all these bee hives without getting stung. I have resisted requeening because most of these swarms have come from areas that have no bee hives and thus I think of them as survivors. I have 13 out of 15 that made it through our punny winter with out feed or drugs or chems. These hives are not swarming possibly due to weakness. But they make honey and two of these hives i got from a bee keeper who said they were two hot for theirlocation and I work them with smoke and their ok. They have made at least 6 years with out requeening.. Maybe we should have drone yards everywhere We need to increase our hive numbers to fight the ahb. We have had a least one club member hive a swarm of ahb. The next day they killed all his chickens and ran off his dogs! Rosenberg has 46- 50 inches of rain a year. The bees we got from weaver are still ok you can walk right up to the hives and watch the bees. I think that up north it is much harder for bees to survive the mites through the winter and ahbs will even have more trouble than ehbbecause of their constant swarming , lack of stores and no mite treatments. From the oldtimers in the club there is the feeling that all bees in our area are meaner. a few members are not fighting the mites and are having low losses. If we just can avoid shb in Texas things might be ok.

  18. #18

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    MB from NE said "From my experience with them it seems the dry season is what causes them to swarm" Just what is your experience with them?

    TXbeeguy said "It has been known for quite awhile that AHB swarms (on rare occasions) can and have "hitched a ride" to northern territories on man-made transportation. I recall where one officially documented case, an AHB swarm was found on a railcar up north that had recently arrived from south Texas. While this is unusual, it served as proof that it can (and does) happen." This is exactly what I am talking about. Can you validate this statement? Recalling this does not make it true.

    Oxankle doubts that management techniques help keep AHB out of Weaver stock. So what does work? Doubting also does not make it so. Others have also commented on the Weaver boys. They sure have some fancy ads in magazines and some proud prices. Could not be exporting AHB and still do this well.



  19. #19
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    After 28 years of having Weaver Buckfasts (2 years ago) and very good luck with them, I had four hives swarm withing a few days of each other in the middle of August n a drought. Immediatly afterwards they turned vicsious. I'm not talking about hot. I'm talking about pouring out of the hive after you when you approach it from the back and haven't even opened it. I'm talking about hunting you down two hours later 200 yards away and stinging you. If you opened the hive the smell of banana filled the air as did every bee in the hive.

    I requeened but that in itself was an adventure.

  20. #20
    nursebee wrote:
    > Can you validate this statement? Recalling this does not make it true.

    Yep, you're absolutely correct (in fact, I frequently ask other people to site their references to "validate" their comments). Usually, it's so I can read the originating article to determine if my understanding/interruption is the same as theirs.

    But in my case, I personally hold a "double standard"; you see, I don't have the inclination to do a web search for an old article (which may or may not be on the web) and I guess, ultimately, I don't particularly care if you believe that I read that article or not. You're certainly free to believe that no such article ever existed and that I made it up (or otherwise had faulty memory of some nature).

    I think MB has done (on more than one occasion), of expressing the differences between just a "hot hive" and one that is Africanized (even though Barry doesn't like that term).
    --
    There is a {limited} school of thought that there really is no such thing as AHBs (for instance, Dee Lusby believes this). But all I can say, is this always comes from beekeepers who haven't experienced them first hand. You're welcome to come southwest Texas and see if you still have this belief after you've worked a few hives down there (but don't wear a veil that uses the white, plastic helmet...they'll get through those openings!)


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