Bees-Online Logo

 

 

Back To African Bees

African Bee Attack

July 02,2005 Jennifer C. Smith The Monitor EDINBURG

Mike Quinn recalled sprinting more then 200 yards to escape thousands of Africanized Honey Bees in Rio Hondo a few years ago. "I was stung several imes." said the Texas Parks and Wildlife invertebrate biologist.

He's lucky: An allergic person stung by a bee could have a fatal reaction, and even nonfatal stings require two to three weeks of recovery, said Edinburg Fire Department Chief Shawn Snider. "We've seen people attacked by hundreds and thousands of them," he said. Weekly bee incidents involving the Africanized species have prompted several fire department and city health officials to advise bee attack prevention guidelines. The species often involved in attacks are crossbreds of the Africanized bee and the honey bee. Africanized honey bees, commonly known as "killer bees," have an aggressive nature; a hive can contain anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 bees, Quinn said. "They have an attitude. They get upset more quickly and sting more quickly," said Bob Cox, an entomologist at the Kiki de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Resource Center in Weslaco.

Surveying an area before doing any loud or disruptive activity could prevent Africanized bee trouble, Snider said. "The citizen needs to be aware of their surroundings," he said. "You need to have awareness in parks, yards and your streets in relation to bees." The fire department responds to three to five bee attacks a week, he said. Home infestations must be handled by pest control as soon as possible, Cox said. "You should be careful and not disturb them," he said. "Call a pest control operator. Don't try to control them at home." Dry weather and a lack of rainfall has increased bee congregation at sprinklers, swimming pools and other sources of moisture, he said. But "they're not aggressive when they're out foraging," Cox said. "Aggressiveness (occurs) if only you approach within 10 feet of them or their colony."

Africanized bees entered the United States through the city of Hidalgo in 1990, according to Texas A & M University's Web site. "They've spread throughout the southwestern United States," Quinn said. "They're throughout most of Texas and we cannot put the genie back in the bottle." Bees can lodge anywhere: inside or outside a home, trees, even clotheslines and tall grass, Snider said. Unlike Africanized bees, honey bees are vital to agriculture, Snider said. "Honey bees in the Rio Grande Valley are just as important as rain," he said. "Without their assistance through the pollination process, food crops would diminish tremendously."

Honey bees, which look almost identical to the Africanized specimen, have been in the country since the 1620s, Cox said. Bee populations should not frighten a homeowner, said Benito Delgado, animal control supervisor at the Pharr Public Works Department. The department has addressed 30 to 35 calls in June; he said he expects more complaints in July. "We talk to the owner first and then wash with soap and water" on a structure's exterior, he said. Soapy water strips a bee of its waxy coating and allows water to be absorbed, thereby drowning the bee. For bee attacks, firefighters don $300 suits composed of three layers of mesh and foam, Snider said. "We wear leather gloves and sometimes when we come back, there are thousands of bee stingers on them," he said. If under a bee attack, people should evacuate the area as soon as possible, Quinn said. "Absolute do not, do not lie and play dead," he said. "Bees are not bears."

Snider also advised against using wasp spray, submerging in water - as bees will attack upon surfacing - or pouring gasoline on the insects. "We've had people try to smoke them out and the fire gets out of control," he said. "They'll burn their home down."

Mike Quinn recalled sprinting more then 200 yards to escape thousands of Africanized Honey Bees in Rio Hondo a few years ago. "I was stung several imes." said the Texas Parks and Wildlife invertebrate biologist.

He's lucky: An allergic person stung by a bee could have a fatal reaction, and even nonfatal stings require two to three weeks of recovery, said Edinburg Fire Department Chief Shawn Snider. "We've seen people attacked by hundreds and thousands of them," he said. Weekly bee incidents involving the Africanized species have prompted several fire department and city health officials to advise bee attack prevention guidelines. The species often involved in attacks are crossbreds of the Africanized bee and the honey bee. Africanized honey bees, commonly known as "killer bees," have an aggressive nature; a hive can contain anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 bees, Quinn said. "They have an attitude. They get upset more quickly and sting more quickly," said Bob Cox, an entomologist at the Kiki de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Resource Center in Weslaco.

Surveying an area before doing any loud or disruptive activity could prevent Africanized bee trouble, Snider said. "The citizen needs to be aware of their surroundings," he said. "You need to have awareness in parks, yards and your streets in relation to bees." The fire department responds to three to five bee attacks a week, he said. Home infestations must be handled by pest control as soon as possible, Cox said. "You should be careful and not disturb them," he said. "Call a pest control operator. Don't try to control them at home." Dry weather and a lack of rainfall has increased bee congregation at sprinklers, swimming pools and other sources of moisture, he said. But "they're not aggressive when they're out foraging," Cox said. "Aggressiveness (occurs) if only you approach within 10 feet of them or their colony."

Africanized bees entered the United States through the city of Hidalgo in 1990, according to Texas A & M University's Web site. "They've spread throughout the southwestern United States," Quinn said. "They're throughout most of Texas and we cannot put the genie back in the bottle." Bees can lodge anywhere: inside or outside a home, trees, even clotheslines and tall grass, Snider said. Unlike Africanized bees, honey bees are vital to agriculture, Snider said. "Honey bees in the Rio Grande Valley are just as important as rain," he said. "Without their assistance through the pollination process, food crops would diminish tremendously."

Honey bees, which look almost identical to the Africanized specimen, have been in the country since the 1620s, Cox said. Bee populations should not frighten a homeowner, said Benito Delgado, animal control supervisor at the Pharr Public Works Department. The department has addressed 30 to 35 calls in June; he said he expects more complaints in July. "We talk to the owner first and then wash with soap and water" on a structure's exterior, he said. Soapy water strips a bee of its waxy coating and allows water to be absorbed, thereby drowning the bee. For bee attacks, firefighters don $300 suits composed of three layers of mesh and foam, Snider said. "We wear leather gloves and sometimes when we come back, there are thousands of bee stingers on them," he said. If under a bee attack, people should evacuate the area as soon as possible, Quinn said. "Absolute do not, do not lie and play dead," he said. "Bees are not bears."

Snider also advised against using wasp spray, submerging in water - as bees will attack upon surfacing - or pouring gasoline on the insects. "We've had people try to smoke them out and the fire gets out of control," he said. "They'll burn their home down."

Back to African Bee Page

© The Monitor, McAllen, Texas

 

 

 

CellPhoneDrivers
Last update - August 29, 2015

© 1995-2015 Albert W. Needham - All Rights Reserved