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Brazilian Scientists’ Comments on Committee Report

A Portuguese translation (Goncalves 1973) of the committee’s report appeared in the 2nd Congresso Brasileiro de Apicultura, and with it 62 comments on the report by four noted Brazilian apiculturists. Some of their comments which are rather interesting are given below:
Statement by Committee Report Brazilian Scientists’ Comments
1. Area of infestation in north is moving about 200 miles per year. Examination of 100 bees on flowers in thickets by Dr. Kerr in north indicates no Apis sp present. Apis bees found only near commercial
apiaries.
2. Between 1963-64 thousands of mated Italian queens were distributed to improve the situation. The queens distributed were few in number (a total of 200 queens).
3. In examining the situation first-hand from Rio Grande do Sul
in the south to Para in the north was impressed by the variability among Brazilian bees in different areas, at different stages in the invasion of an area, and perhaps at different seasons.
The American investigative committee disembarked at S. Paulo on Nov. 17, 1971 and embarked on Dec. 11, 1971 to return to the USA from S. Paulo.
4. Ocelli are said to be larger in Italian bees. Goncalves (1970) found an average diameter of 0.271 mm for the Africans and 0.270 mm for the Italians.
5. Queens begin laying at an earlier age (8 days). Camargo and Goncalves (1971) show that there is no difference between the onset of initial laying between Italian and African queens.
6. European bees in Brazil were never commonly found living wild
in the forests.
The information is not exact. A. m. mellifera was readily found in the fields near Sao Paulo, Itu, and Piracicala.
7. There are persistent reports that swarms sometimes attack and
sting without provocation.
In 8 years of collaboration with the Firemen’s Corps, the word “swarm”
was used whenever we were called, although it was always a matter
of established colonies that were infuriated for the most various
reasons.
8. Brazilian bees produce effects comparable to stings from the
honey bee.
Mello (1970) showed by electrophoresis analyses of venom the existence of 10 identical protein bands in African and Italian bees and
their hybrids.
9. Disturbed bees pursue a person or animal for distances far greater than is usual for European bees. In the U.S. and Europe, there are also bees (for example, the Kelly
Island line and the alfalfa pollinating line and in Germany, the “Hide Bienen” and in Portugal the A. mellifera line of bees known as “bicainhas”) which pursue over
long distances.
10. There are many reports of animals and even people being killed
by stings of Brazilian bees.
The proportion of Brazilian population killed by bee stings (namely 60 out of 95,000,000) does not differ in proportion from North
Americans killed by bee stings (140 out of 205,000,000). Esch 1972 (personal communication).
11. Most stinging is by bees from swarms. According to Gary (1972), bees in the process of swarming rarely sting
(in Africa).
12. Migratory apiculture is complicated by the tendency of Brazilian bees to ball and kill the queen when the hive is carried for
long distance on a truck or otherwise seriously disturbed.
Beekeepers in the state of S. Paulo, who practice migratory beekeeping by transporting colonies more than 300 km, have not confirmed this
defect. South African beekeepers have practised migratory beekeeping
for years and never observed the balling or death of queens during
transport of colonies.
13. Brazilian bees rob excessively. Robbing is not done to a greater extent than what we have seen in the
apiaries of Calif. or West Germany.
14. Committee concluded that Brazilian bees invade and take over
colonies of other strains.
Observations during 8 years indicates frequency of invasion of 1 to 1,000 which is irrelevant.
15. Small nuclei cannot be used for queen mating, because the bees
leave with the queen.
Since 1964, more than 200 mating nuclei (with 4 frames) into which
are constantly introduced queens artificially mated or those that are going to make a mating flight, we have not had any kind of problem related to the bees or queens leaving.
16. The Brazilian bee is undesirable. The classification of Brazilian bee as undesirable is a subjective
classification. It may be confirmed from the committee’s report (Table 2) that 70% of the beekeepers prefer this bee and 87% did not have empty hives to sell.
17. Conventional aerial spray applications might be used to control
small localized infestations.
The use of chemical agents and pathogenic agents against Brazilian
bees is a solution that is anti-scientific. You would run the
risk of eliminating other insects of the regions treated as well as certain plants.