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CATCH THE BUZZ
Africanized Honeybees Found in Georgia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 21, 2010
More on the Story Released Here Yesterday
Entomological tests have confirmed that Africanized honeybees were responsible for the death of an elderly man in Dougherty County last week. News reports say the man accidentally disturbed a feral colony of bees with his bulldozer and that he received more than 100 stings.
“This is the first record of Africanized honeybees in Georgia,” said Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin.
Africanized honeybees are a hybrid of African and European honeybees. Because of their extremely defensive nature regarding their nest (also referred to as a colony or hive), they are sometimes called “killer bees.” Large numbers of them sometimes sting people or livestock with little provocation.
The Africanized honeybee and the familiar European honeybee (Georgia’s state insect) look the same and their behavior is similar in some respects. Each bee can sting only once, and there is no difference between Africanized honeybee venom and that of a European honeybee. However, Africanized honeybees are less predictable and more defensive than European honeybees. They are more likely to defend a wider area around their nest and respond faster and in greater numbers than European honeybees.
Africanized honeybees first appeared in the U.S. in Texas in 1990. Since then they have spread to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida and now Georgia. Entomologists and beekeepers have been expecting the arrival of these bees in Georgia for several years. There has been an established breeding population in Florida since 2005.
Because Africanized honeybees look almost identical to European honeybees, the bees from the Dougherty County incident had to be tested to accurately ascertain they were the Africanized strain. The Georgia Department of Agriculture sent samples of the bees to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which has the capability to do FABIS (fast African bee identification system) testing and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture identification test (the complete morphometrics test) to confirm the bees’ identity.
“Georgia beekeepers are our first and best line of defense against these invaders. They are the ones who will be able to monitor and detect any changes in bee activity,” said Commissioner Irvin.
“The Georgia Department of Agriculture is going to continue its trapping and monitoring of bee swarms to try to find where any Africanized honeybees are,” said Commissioner Irvin. “We also want to educate people about what to do in case they encounter a colony of Africanized honeybees. Georgians can visit our website for more information. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has a publication on Africanized honeybees that is available online (http://pubsadmin.caes.uga.edu/files/pdf/B%201290_2.PDF) or at Extension offices.”
Hives of European honeybees managed by beekeepers play an important role in our lives. These bees are necessary for the pollination of many crops. One-third of our diet relies on honeybee pollination.
People can coexist with the Africanized honeybee by learning about the bee and its habits, supporting beekeeping efforts and taking a few precautions.
Thanks wolfpenfarm, You learn something new everyday! I just read this online, link down below. It states that the average length of a honey bee wing is 9mm or more and anything less then 9mm is considered to be AHB. I have no idea if there is any truth to it or not but thought someone might know.
The spread of the AHB into more and more of the southern states is the reason there is now so much effort to get more northern beekeepers into queen rearing. Queens raised and bred in northern states will be less likely to have the AHB genes.
Bee all you can Bee!
I'd like to know how old this hive was... did it overwinter down there last winter?
I know I killed a swarm up here in TN I suspected of being africanized and sent samples with the state apiarist... they were on a big rig that came N. out of Florida and the bees were attacking anything that moved even if it was a hundred yards away. There were at least a few thousand dead bees around an A/C unit because they were attacking the fan blade. I haven't heard back on the results yet, but I would be very surprised if they weren't AHB. Anyway, the point is that a swarm like that can travel a thousand miles in a couple of days if they land on a rail car or big rig, etc. but they aren't going to be able to overwinter in a nothern climate. I'd be surprised if those bees in GA made it through a winter there.
You guys are using wishfull thinking about cold weather killing them. 15 years ago there were studies in Mexico where AHB survived at 5000ft elevation. They overwinter in swarms the size of a baseball here and we have zero nectar from Nov to April with temps in the teens and lower. They are not a serious problem in CA where there is an ample supply of domestic bees. I live on the edge of the desert where there is some nectar but not enough for commercial beekeeping. AHB survives here and stays quite pure and mean. Pure strains produce no honey. I have 3 hives of a cross that are completely disease resistant . They have varroa but coexist with no intervention. They have the temperment of old Germans and do produce an average amount of honey. I must be prepared for the worst when I work them and do so only on a perfect day. They would be to mean for a commercial outfit.
The problem is not them overwintering. Its the drones they produce. If this hive was near a queen rearing operation, The drones were flying out to DCA's and open mating with queens. Even if you flood your mating area with your drones some AHN drones are going to mate with your queens. Those queens are then going to produse some daughters that are half AHB and will be aggressive.
"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain
If you look at the natural (not beekeeper maintained) distribution of AHB in Argentina, they can establish themselves up to about 32-33 degrees South Latitude.
The equivalent latitude in the US would be Atlanta. Higher altitude (like Atlanta) and winter humidity might move that line to the south. Some AHB have survived as far south as 39 degrees latitude in Argentina, which would map to Washington DC. AHB have already made it to 39 degrees North Latitude in Nevada, but that is a dryer climate.
That said, I have seen maps based on Argentina that predict AHB as far north as southern Iowa and New York State. Of course, a big factor is the presence of numerous hives of European bees to compete with the AHB. And in cooler climates theAHB become less aggressive.
If a colony splits in the wild, who is there to walk away?
Well I don't know if this is normal are not but I'm starting to wonder if I have killer bee's!I have two hive and yes I am in Ga.that I started this year and all year I have been able to sit within 8 feet from my hive and observe the hive .But that is no longer possible,if I come within 8 feet now I need a suit is this normal this time of year? it's possible that there is some robbing going on that I can not seem to stop, the bees are all over the front of both hives which are 2 acres apart and are not acting normal at all.bees are also all over the place I mean front door back door all around the house shop ect.also don't let no body tell you that a hive beetle can't fit through # 8 screen wire.I pulled out my oil tray and they were 150 dead bees in the bottom of it .I'm wondering if this is part of there strange behavior?If any body can give me some advice it would be greatly appreciated....
On the positive side, all the news reports and articles I have seen have been very factual and matter-of-fact without a lot of sensationalism, other than an occasional reference to "killer bees".
In FL, they developed the "Best Management Practices" for beekeepers and queen rearers on a voluntary basis to help cope with AHB. Does anyone know how successful that program is?
I had a hive this spring that was just down right mean. Foolishly made a split from this hive and the new hive was just as mean. I'm talking tagged 3 times just taking the outter cover off. Silver lining was they were crazy productive. Real honey machines. I split again and they superceeded. Now I can refill feeders without veil. Maybe you just have a spicy queen. Swap her out.
Buffalo Lick Farm & Nursery
I guess it was inevitable but am sorry to hear it, just the same. I'm wondering now if and when they'll reach N GA.
See links below for the details.
Good news is they think they were transported in.....lets all hope so
"You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."
Haven't been on the site in a while so I don't know if this has been posted already.
If true, it makes me want to rethink purchasing packages/nucs from southern GA apiaries. What do ya'll think?
Man Dies After Killer Bee Attack
Africanized Bees Confirmed To Have Caused Death
POSTED: 12:11 pm EDT October 21, 2010
UPDATED: 12:40 pm EDT October 21, 2010
Comments (11)ALBANY, Ga. -- Agriculture officials say a Georgia man died after being swarmed by killer bees.
Georgia Agriculture Commission Tommy Irvin said Thursday that tests show Africanized "killer" bees were responsible for the death of 73-year-old Curtis Davis in Dougherty County.
Davis was stung hundreds of times when his bulldozer hit an old wooden porch post where the bees had built a giant hive. The insects swarmed him.
Irvin said the tests showed the insects were a hybrid of African and European honeybees, sometimes called "killer bees." The bees are extremely defensive, swarm in greater numbers than typical European honeybees and sting with little provocation.
The first swarm of Africanized bees in the U.S. was discovered outside the small Texas town of Hidalgo in 1990. They have gradually spread to other states including northern Florida several years ago, but have not been previously confirmed in Georgia, according to the Georgia Beekeepers Association.
State officials said they will continue trapping and monitoring bee swarms to identify Africanized honeybees.
A web posting by the Georgia Beekeepers Association said that they are “confidant that (Africanized bees) will at least reach the Atlanta area.”
I can't really say from a beekeeper point of view, but just looking at it--it was one case, with a wild swarm. Wouldn't there be a MUCH lower chance of an AHB package coming your way? I mean, for one, the guy shaking the package would probably notice (would they care enough to cull the package?), and two, aren't most breeding apiaries surrounded by their own drone producing hives? Even if a queen mated with a small fraction of AHB drones of her total drone count, would that affect the temperment of the entire hive?
Mostly just asking rather than saying, but to change an entire operation off of a single unrelated incident seems a little overboard.
AHBs are not like European bees. They swarm multiple times. Much more often than what we are use to. They swarming is a natural way for them to replicate and doesn't seem to be associated with overcrowding. Actually it seems the more plentiful the natural resources, the more the swarm.
AHB swarms appear to be like any other bees. It's after they take up residence and have a colony to protect that you actually see the difference.
At least these are my understandings. So if a queen breeds with an AHB drone and the queen is them caged for a package, it would seem that it would not be realized until the queen starts laying once the package has been installed and there are brood, honey, comb, etc. to protect.
While it is just one occurance that has been noted, that has no bearing as to how many AHB colonies are in the area or AHB Drones are in Drone Zones.
I have decided one way or another as to whether or not I will stop purchasing bees from southern GA. But it gives me a reason to ensure I am getting what I expect.
Wouldn't there be a MUCH lower chance of an AHB package coming your way? I mean, for one, the guy shaking the package would probably notice (would they care enough to cull the package?), and two, aren't most breeding apiaries surrounded by their own drone producing hives?
The problem is the queen breeders, not the package producers. AHB are known to invade a European hive, kill the European queen, and take over the hive.
AHB swarms are calm. Small AHB hives are fairly calm. You don't hit the problem stage until the colony starts getting large.
What happens if an AHB queen takes over a small breeder queen hive, and someone doesn't notice and grafts eggs? What happens if an AHB queen takes over the drone producing hives and you flood the area with AHB drones?
How hot of a bee do you want?
Even if you can tolerate a hotter bee, do you want to buy a queen (or package) that can't overwinter in areas with a winter? AHB don't handle winter yet.
Key word here is "yet". I think if we keep accidentally breeding them into our bees and shipping them out to more northern climates, they will eventually adapt. Maybe that is naive thinking...or just thinking out loud
Don't shoot all the dogs because 1 had fleas !!!