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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Workshop held to prepare locals for Africanized bees
Difference in European (regular) honey bees and the Africanized version:

-- Response to disturbance: European bees may send out 10-20 guard bees in response to a disturbance within about 20 feet of the hive. Africanized bees may send several hundred guard bees in response to disturbances up to 120 feet.

-- After agitation: European bees will calm between one and two hours after agitation. Africanized bees may remain defensive for days.

-- Stinging: A disturbed European colony may result in 10-20 stings. An Africanized disturbed colony may result in 100 to 1,000 stings.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Extension

The Africanized honey bee, or “killer bee,” is on its way to Alabama. No one knows when, but a group is hoping to educate first responders before it is too late.

“It is imminent for us. We need to be prepared,” said Dennis Barclift, state apiarist for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

Barclift and others held a workshop Thursday in Dothan designed to inform 911 operators and emergency personnel about the proper way to handle sting and swarm incidents.

“My worst fear is that one day for somebody to call me in Alabama and say their 2-year-old took 200 stings. I don't want that to happen,” Barclift said.

The Africanized honey bee has been in the United States since 1990. It looks just like a typical honey bee (known as a European honey bee), but the Africanized version is extremely aggressive. They are more easily provoked, quicker to swarm, attack in greater numbers, and pursue their victims for greater distances.

Barclift said that while there are no known instances of Africanized honey bees in Alabama in any significant number, they are spreading quickly in Florida and moving north. In 2011, the bees had spread as far north as Orange County, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service.

David Westervelt, state apiarist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said more than 500 semi truck loads of bees come out of Florida each year, usually along Interstate 10 headed West. The trucks are capable of carrying anywhere from 100 to 480 hives each. One overturned truck could introduce millions of bees to the area. Or, they could simply migrate north slowly.

Meanwhile, Africanized honey bees caused the death of a Georgia man earlier this year in Dougherty County when he disturbed a hive while bulldozing an old home. Deaths have also been attributed to the bees in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

“It is not a scare tactic,” Westervelt said. “It is just important to know how to deal with them.”

Those in attendance were shown appropriate gear to wear when dealing with the bees, how to treat victims with multiple stings, how to treat those who are allergic to bee stings and who to call to deal with either extermination or salvage of a hive.

Barclift said any members of the public who may one day encounter the bees should try to get away from the area as quickly as possible.

“You do not know the aggressive nature of this bee until you deal with it,” Barclift said.

The workshop was a joint effort of the Wiregrass Beekeepers, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Alabama Cooeprative Extension System, Dothan/Houston County EMA, local 4H, Flowers Hospital and local Department of Public Health.
 

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David Westervelt, state apiarist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said more than 500 semi truck loads of bees come out of Florida each year, usually along Interstate 10 headed West. The trucks are capable of carrying anywhere from 100 to 480 hives each. One overturned truck could introduce millions of bees to the area.
Barclift said any members of the public who may one day encounter the bees should try to get away from the area as quickly as possible.

“You do not know the aggressive nature of this bee until you deal with it,” Barclift said.
It would seem to me a good time to use all the DOT officers and inspect all the bee trucks coming into the state, make sure the drivers have had there required rest, and then escort them through with a police escort:lookout:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
already happening
note I do not agree with Mr. Barclift. Bless his heart, I know the man but AHB will not progress northward without a significant climate change reducing rainfall below 55 inches per year. There is significant research out of USDA ARS, UF, and anyone that can read a map can see they have not and will not progress in Africa, South America, or North America without climate change. The maps of AHB and rainfall are on the link.
http://americasbeekeeper.org/Africanized_Honey_Bee.htm
 

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Also, since AHB don't build winter stores and don't cluster, isn't it logical to believe there is a northern limit just due to cold weather and not having food to store even on warmer winter days when they could fly?
 

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This just generates more uneeded fear and urban myths. A lot of those traits mentioned are not characteristic for the ones I have dealt with. There is a lot of variation. I feel it does beekeeping a dis-service to over-generalize them. It opens us up to "kill all the feral and wild bees because they are all bad".
 

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The "German" black bees have been here since the 1600s and they are much more aggressive than any "AHB" I've seen in Arizona, New Mexico, the Caribbean... the "first responders" should have already been prepared to handle aggressive bees... for the last three or four hundred years or so...


http://books.google.com/books?id=fO...Ag#v=onepage&q="mules stung to death"&f=false
http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...dYmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ewIGAAAAIBAJ&pg=5349,2593733
http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...5hJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YwwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5463,4093680
http://genealogytrails.com/ala/madison/news_community.html
 

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My point exactly! - and as they proceed into more temperate areas, they will become more and more indistinguishable from the Black Bees, genetically and behaviorally. So what does it change? We have "wild" bees again in many areas where they disappeared.
 

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I have attended the funerals of beekeepers in Costa Rica and several other Latin American countries. AHB are dangerous. The postulate that AHB will dissipate in temperate climate has more "belief" than science.

This echo chamber of "head-in-sand" denial about the very real risks in AHB is not very professional. Yes, I understand that lurid and sensationalized tales are an public perception issue for beekeepers (especially that new wave that wants to feed bees on the melting popsicles on urban sidewalks).

The "thrice out of Africa" paper describes the rapid and complete and stable replacement of the North American mixed population with a 25%-75% mix of AMM and AHB/AMS in just years in a Southern Texas border site.

I am living at the northern border of the AHB invasion wave in coastal California. My last local beekeeper meeting had an anecdote about an amateur and failed extraction that lead directly to the sting death of a neighbor's pet dog. In other words, this area is just now experiencing the risks that washed over Latin America a decade-and-half ago.

Yet, in this context, we have commercial shipment of patently AHB queen lines all over the country with constant promotion by arm-chair experts on forums. We have a "backwards beekeeper" movement out of Los Angeles deliberately "rescuing" AHB colonies and shipping them north to the Central Valley for commercial profit. We have a Greek Chorus of me-too folks denying that AHB dominance has serious behavioral consequences.

<<boggle>>
 

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I have attended the funerals of beekeepers in Costa Rica and several other Latin American countries. AHB are dangerous. The postulate that AHB will dissipate in temperate climate has more "belief" than science.
Costa Rica has a "tropical" climate, thus I expect it to have a AHB problem. It is not "temperate".

Is it not reasonable to assume (until shown otherwise) that the traits of AHB are to not winter-cluster and thus not be able to survive in colder climates? And even in transition zones where the temps aren't cold enough to kill them, if they can't forage due to nothing being flowering, they can't survive either?

Can someone answer this scientifically?
 

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There is no way to stop this other than selective breeding and genetic dilution. One of my biggest issues is that, yes, these bees are out there, but even the scientific data doesn't always jive. Most of it is grossly inaccurate 30 years later, and in a different climate zone than where the initial research was conducted. Nobody is even researching it any more. A lot of the sensationalism was caused by politics from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Why has no sensationalism followed AMM or Russian hybrids? They can be just as bad. This is old news - deal with it and move on. We need new methods. We should not be spreading the seeds of fear to future beekeepers and resurrecting old fears for the general public.

Bad behaviour or not, when we single them out as a pariah, it paints ALL wild/feral bees as bad and feeds the industries that seek their destruction (pest control, politics, etc. - even our own beekeeping industry). With varroa and all the other issues that are affecting bees as a whole, we should not be killing off our last vestiges of natural selection that might help with their survival, especially with a changing climate. We can't keep breeding from the same 9 original queen lines and need more diverisity to keep the overall stock healthy.

Google "Waiting for Scutellata Part IV" There are some very interesting comments towords the end about selective breeding being nescessary.

Rweaver7777 the way I have seen it put, in several peer reviewed studies, is that on the way North, the AHB assimiliated Eastern and Western honeybee genetics. As they progress into temperate climates, the western genetics (AMM) becomes dominant. You see this at high elevations too. Thus, the old adage about not being able to cluster may not be totally true. My question is this - is there a certain tip-over point? How do you tell one from another when they reach this point? Many of the traits are very similar in all wild bees, which is what AHB in essence truly is - a hyper-feral bee.
 

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I saw some documentary on Nat geo/Discovery Channel...

It showed that AHB could survive in cold weather.... Now whether they pack enough stores or thrive in those climates is completely different... But I would expect that to be handled through natural selection... i.e. 1 in 100 AHB hives starts to pack some food for winter... Next year it's 5 of of the 10 swarms issued from that hive... Rinse and repeat..

I've had hives that were nice as they could be one day and pure terrors the next... That's part of the reason that I push that you should always be wearing protective gear, at a minimal a veil. Regardless of whether you believe that they are "gentle", your not at those hives 24/7 and you do not know what happened to them 30 minutes before you show up.
 

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Exactly KevinR - ALL BEES CAN BE DANGEROUS! People forget this.

Granted, Scutellata are pretty much a crappy breed, and their traits should be bred out as we see them, but it does not help us as a whole to be spreading fear. Out of your 5 of 10 swarms that may survive, they will be surrounded by many more temperate eastern/Western European hives which will change their behavior. They may still be of African origin in the end, but their behavior will be very different. How much research has been put into this? Most of it stops at the border.

If every beekeeper in the US sent their bees out for genetic testing right now, I think many would be shocked at the results. I bet a large percentage would register as African.
 

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Where do bees get sent for genetic testing? Is there a cost? I'd might sacrafice a few bees to see what I got going on... *grins*...

Report..
1% wolverine, 9% badger, 75% Italian, 10% Russian, 5% yellow jacket...

I knew some of my bees had a attitude problem... Now I know why.... *grins*
 

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Well, before the "Sequester" I used to be able to get it free through our Extension Office. I tested everything before I bred from it. Not any more. All we can rely upon now is observed traits. Consequently, I very rarely breed from "caught" bees any more (particularly the ones from the desert), and prefer to open mate my queens at a very high altitude. Most of my bees are pretty well behaved, but definitely not domestic. Not sure I will ever sell them to anyone outside this region.

Maybe our government will come to it's senses and fund testing again, but they do not seem to think it is a nescessity. I doubt we will see it again.

Beltsville, may be able to do it for you, but I also warn you, it is not always accurate. I had several of my "store-bought" queens come back as AHB, and they got squished. You would have never guessed by looking at them.
 

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http://www.beesource.com/point-of-v...s-vicious-bee-breeding-historical-background/

Try a search on the above page for "Kerr" or "adonsonii". The USDA was breeding from the stock that they got from Kerr (the guy responsible for the AHB in Brazil) so it was the same stock. And the USDA was not the first to bring in African stock. It has been going on at least since the late 1800s. Testing for African genes may not be the wisest thing as I would guess there is a lot of African genetics that has been in the US for at least a century.

Regardless of the genetics of the bee, I think it's irresponsible to keep vicious bees.
 

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I 100% agree... I don't mind a queen that has workers bees buzzing in the air or randomly head butting me...

But I smush any where the workers are 110% devoted towards my death. You can tell the difference when you have a annoyed hive vs one that is aggressive/vicious.

You "should" be able to take the lid off the hive and look in the top without smoke in my opinion... I rarely light the smoker unless I'm doing some major hive inspection.

If you crack the lid and their are 20+ bees in the air and bouncing off your head.. After you pull out a frame, if you can't can't see out your veil and can smell the venom from where they are trying to sting through screen. That's a hive you need to watch/replace the queen.

Mind you as I stated above, I rarely work with smoke, so maybe my expectations are too high, but I expect my bees to stay calm and line up at the top and watch me.
 

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I could work all of my hives without smoke this season until fall. I guess I am OK.

I did have one get really ornery on me shortly before I buttoned them up for Winter and stung me pretty good, but they were also trying to swarm because i got a little behind in swarm prevention. They were one of my only hives of domestic Italians, and in Spring they will be replaced by something else - probably a homegrown queen. Didn't want to risk them going queenless by requeening in October.

I have a small 2 box nuc of really dark bees that swarmed into my mountain yard (in a swarm trap) back in September. The jury is still out on them. They are obvious high altitude locals for they do not resemble anything I had at that particular time in that location. Sealed everything tight as a drum, and totally filled the nuc with comb and honey - then clustered right up. I added a second box with honey for extra measure. Ornery but workable, I call them. I have seen many others like them out in the general mountain area I live in. If they live through Winter I will be splitting them unless they become mean - then I will still split, but they will get another queen.

As Mr. Bush says, they pretty much passed around African DNA in the US like a bad case of herpes. They did it for many years and are still doing it. Evidence exists it has been done at least 15 times prior to the 1960's.
 
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