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Africanized Honey Bees in Florida
 

Africanized Honey Bees in Florida

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  • In the early part of the 16th century, the Spanish brought over the first honey bee colonies. English colonists did the same and soon honey bees had escaped into the wild and were buzzing all over North America. In some cases, the honey bees traveled in advance of the European settlers and came in contact with Native American tribes, who dubbed them "white man's flies." By the time the frontier had been settled, late in the 19th century, honey bees were regarded as a natural part of the insect world in North America.
  • The Africanized honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) (AHB), sometimes called the “killer bee” was first bred in an attempt to create a honeybee that would better suit tropical conditions. In 1956, a geneticist by the name of Warwick Kerr began breeding European honeybees with Africanized honeybees. It was expected that while mated with European bees, the Africanized bees would lose their more aggressive nature. However, that was not the case and in 1957, 26 African queen bees were released from the breeding program in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Africanized Honeybees pose a greater danger because of their defensive response. They are more easily provoked and respond sooner and attack longer than European Honeybees (EHBs). Unlike EHBs, more bees respond (send out 3-4 times as many bees to respond to the threat) when provoked. There are typically 10 times more sting per encounter with AHBs than EHBs. They are more defensive of their nest. They can chase you for up to a quarter of a mile.
  • Swarm traps have been used in port areas and other areas to monitor and trap AHB. The pheromone lure attracts the swarm scout bees and encourages the swarm to move into the trap. The bees then can be easily contained, sampled, and destroyed. This reduces the number of feral swarms in an area and may decrease the chance of an undetected feral colony being disturbed and causing an attack.
  • This is a European Honey bee swarm. Honey bee swarms are not aggressive because they don’t have any resources to defend. When disturbed, the queen flies away and the swarm follows her.
  • Swarms are a way HB colonies divide when they get too large for the current hive or colony location The old queen and half of the workers leave the old colony to find a new hive at a new location. These bees are not defensive because they do not have resources (honey and brood) to defend. Africanized honey bees are not very defensive at this stage.
  • Africanized honey bees (AHB) are the same species as European honey bees (EHB). The sting of the AHB is not more dangerous or toxic than EHB. Their (AHB) smaller size means they actually have a tiny bit less venom that EHB. You can not tell an AHB from a EHB by looking at them, because the relative size difference is so small. AHB look just like EHB in terms of color and appearance.
  • Africanized Honeybees pose a greater danger because of their defensive response. They are more easily provoked and respond sooner and attack longer than European Honeybees (EHBs). Unlike EHBs, more bees respond (send out 3-4 times as many bees to respond to the threat) when provoked. There are typically 10 times more sting per encounter with AHBs than EHBs. They are more defensive of their nest. They can chase you for up to a quarter of a mile.
  • Outdoor workers include utility workers, meter readers, tree trimmers, landscapers, surveyors, construction crews, timber harvesters, and land clearing crews. Military bases are very susceptible because they are close to ports and have structures that are used sporadically for training. Rescue personnel may be asked to face aggressive AHB, such as if a car hits a tree or structure containing an AHB colony. Proper training and equipment are essential.
  • Small children, the elderly, and the physically disabled are at greater risk because they are less able to escape. Children are also at risk due to their smaller body size. Dangerous envenomation occurs after 5-10 stings / pound. So a 20 lb. toddler would be in serious danger after only 100 stings, while a healthy adult could survive over 500 stings.
  • Tethered or restrained animals. Dogs chained outside have been killed in Florida and other states. Penned, caged, or corralled. Two caged lions were killed in a Nicaraguan Zoo by AHB because workers could not safely remove them from their cages. Horses and bees don’t mix. Houses react violently to being stung and they do not run away. There whinnying and stomping tends to excite the bees even more. At least one horse has been killed in Florida.
  • AHB are more aggressive than EHB. But EHB have been selected for thousands of years to be gentle. AHB swarm more and produce more feral colonies. AHB nest in more and smaller spaces than EHB. Places we might run into them more often. In terms of Aggressive Defense of the colony and potential number of stings, AHB are comparable to our native yellow jackets or bald faced hornets. We have dealt with these venomous insects and control them when they become a problem. AHB will be managed the same way.

Africanized Honey Bees in Florida Africanized Honey Bees in Florida Presentation Transcript

  • Africanized Honey Bees in Florida Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner Wayne N. Dixon, Division Director Bee aware ... look, listen, run
    • Bees evolved from wasps 80 million years ago
    • Spanish brought over first honeybee colonies in the 16 th century
    • Dubbed “white man’s flies” by Native American tribes
    History of Honey Bees
  • Florida Beekeeping
    • Florida beekeeping developed between 1872 and 1888
    • Reported in 1879 that most everyone in Daytona area kept several colonies
    • Apiaries began to be established all over state after 1888
    • 1920 Florida held the world record for honey production
  • Florida Beekeeping
    • Apiary inspection was created by Legislative Act 1919
    • 250,000 colonies maintained by registered beekeepers (last 3 years)
    • 56,000 colonies inspected from 3,400 apiaries per year
    • First bred to create a honeybee better suited for tropical conditions
    • 1957 - 26 African queen bees were accidentally released from breeding in Sao Paulo, Brazil
    AHB - History
  • How Africanized honeybees entered Florida
  • Deep Water Ports of Florida Florida has 14 deep water ports
  • Spread of Africanized Honey Bees from 1990 t0 2006
  • Africanized honey bees have arrived! Now What?
  •  
  • AHB Finds in Florida (estimate) Percent of Finds
    • Maintaining 500 bait traps throughout the state to intercept introduction of AHBs
    • Conducting analytical tests to determine AHBs genetics
    • Working w/multiple entities to educate/train
    What is FDACS/DPI doing to prevent AHB’s from entering Florida?
    • Cone style trap is made from recycled wood pulp
    • Lures used to attract bees into swarm traps or hives
    Swarm trap Swarm lure www.beeequipment.com
  • Swarms Are Not Aggressive
  • Facts About Swarms
    • Swarms are a way colonies divide when they get too large for their current hive location
    • The old queen and some of the workers leave the old colony to find a new colony at a new location.
    • Bees in swarms are not defensive because they do not have resources (honey and babies) to defend .
  • AHB Planning Collaboration and Training in Florida
    • Formed Africanized Bee Working Group
    • Devoting research funds to AHB
    • Providing funds to the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for a “Train the Trainer” curriculum
    • Partnership with Florida State Beekeepers Association
  • The Truth About Africanized Honey Bees
    • Africanized honey bees (AHB) are the same species as European honey bees (EHB).
    • The sting of the AHB is not more dangerous or toxic than EHB.
    • You cannot tell an AHB from a EHB by looking at them.
    • Three to four times as many bees respond to threat
    • 10 times more stings per encounter compared to European honey bees
    • Defend wider area around nest compared to European honey bees
    • Can chase victims for ¼ mile
    AHB - Behavior/Defensive Response
  • Attacks can result in numerous stings. Notice the number of stingers on the glove to the left.
  • At-Risk Groups
    • People likely to interact with bees
      • Outdoor workers
        • Foresters and fire fighters
        • Parks and recreation personnel
        • Landscapers
        • Utility workers
        • Land clearing equipment operators
      • Military during training
      • Sports enthusiasts
      • Rescue personnel
  • At-Risk Groups
    • These people are at greater risk from encounters with feral AHB colonies because they are less able to escape the situation.
    • Small Children
    • Elderly
    • Handicapped
  • At-Risk Groups
    • Animals at risk
      • Tethered or restrained animals.
      • Penned, caged, or corralled.
      • Horses and bees don’t mix.
  • AHB Interactions in Florida
    • 2008 - First human fatality resulting from AHB stings occurred in Okeechobee County
    • Horse killed in LaBelle (Lee County)
    • Dog killed in Fort Myers (Lee County)
    • Dogs killed in Miami Gardens (Miami-Dade County) – dogs’ owners sent to hospital, firemen (first responders) injured
    • City workers in Moore Haven (Glades County) sent to hospital
    • Farm worker in Brevard County injured
    • Four dogs killed (Palm Beach County), property owner injured
    • Many more reports of stinging incidents throughout state, primary in South Florida
    2008 interactions will only increase
  • What should you do to avoid being stung? What should you do if you are being attacked by stinging insects?
  • Bee Alert
    • Check the environment around your homes regularly for possible bee nesting sites – plug holes
    • Look for bees in work areas before using power equipment – noise excites bees
  • Hive in an Old Gas Tank
  • Surprise AHB Nesting Site
  • Bee Proofing
    • Africanized honey bees nest in a wide variety of locations
      • Need openings >1/8 inch, cavity behind the opening for a nest
    • Eliminate shelter
      • Caulk cracks in walls, foundation, and roof
      • Fill or screen holes >1/8-inch in trees, structures, or block walls
      • Screen attic vents, irrigation boxes, and water meter box holes
      • Remove trash or debris that might shelter honey bees
      • Fill or cover animal burrows
      • Secure window screens to fit tightly
      • Close shed doors tightly and keep in good repair
    Hole leading to cavity
  • Colony Removal
    • Disturbing a defensive colony by untrained personnel could endanger people and pets up to 150 yards away from colony.
    • Only experienced persons with protective equipment should attempt to remove or eliminate bee colonies.
      • Improper removal can cause bees to attack bystanders.
      • Numerous insecticides are approved for use on bees.
      • Use foam. Soapy water doesn't work effectively on a colony because honey comb prevents adequate coverage.
    • If attacked, cover your mouth and nose and run inside a building, vehicle or other enclosure
    • Don’t swat at bees – only makes them more defensive
    • Don’t jump in a pool – they’ll wait for you
    • If stung, scrape off the stinger with a fingernail or credit card
    • Call a pest control company to remove the hive
    • Seek medical attention if necessary
    Bee aware ... look, listen, run Stinger in arm
  • Putting AHB Into Perspective
    • AHB are more aggressive than EHB.
    • AHB swarm more and produce more feral colonies.
    • AHB nest in more and smaller spaces than EHB.
    • In terms of aggressive defense of the colony and potential number of stings, AHB are comparable to our native yellow jackets or bald-faced hornets.
  • Bee Aware . . . Public Awareness Program
    • Challenge:
    • Educate the public about potential dangers of AHB, while at the same time stressing the importance of managed honey bee colonies to Florida agriculture
    • Interface/Educate/ Train
    • Established Inter-Agency Working Group
    • Make presentations/ attend statewide conferences
    • Develop/distribute brochures, fact sheets, videos, PSAs, school curriculums
    AHB Outreach Activities
  • AHB Inter-Agency Working Group
    • State agencies (public health, emergency management, tourism, environmental services, Ag law, Forestry), industry representatives, University of Florida IFAS, ag officials from Georgia and Alabama
    • Mission: to share information and speak with one voice
  • AHB Inter-Agency Working Group
    • Create/maintain Intranet Web site to share information
    • Develop easy-to-remember slogan for responding to potential AHB attacks
    • Conduct statewide presentations to stakeholder groups
    Bee aware ... look, listen, run
    • Managed colonies dilute AHB populations.
    • Prevent AHB takeover of European honeybee hives.
    • AHB are less likely attracted to areas where other foragers exist.
    Importance of Managed Colonies in Mitigating AHB
  • Beekeepers are Valuable European honey bees are the first and best deterrent against an area becoming Africanized.
  • Public Outreach Efforts: What works/what doesn’t
    • Clear message works:
    • AHB’s are here and they are potentially dangerous . . .
  • Public Outreach Efforts: What works/what doesn’t
    • Present concise information on what to do if attacked by stinging insects such as AHBs:
      • Be aware of your surroundings (look for bees, listen for buzzing)
      • If attacked, run, seek shelter inside
      • Scrape off stingers
      • Contact PCO to remove hive
      • Seek medical attention if necessary
  • Public Outreach Efforts: What works/what doesn’t
    • People are interested in AHBs – getting their attention should be easy
    • Use existing communication tools to educate your audiences (newsletters, utility bill inserts, Web site links, etc.)
    • Encourage the public to be knowledgeable and prepared, not to panic
    • We can learn to live with AHBs as we have yellow jackets, fire ants, etc.
  • Public Outreach Efforts: What works/what doesn’t
    • Greatest challenges:
      • Getting the word out – interfacing w/other entities
      • Explaining the importance of managed colonies (food does not originate at Publix)
  • Summary
    • Africanized Honey Bees do not intentionally try to hurt people. They are simply defending their territory. If people disturb the hive, or if a hive is accidentally disturbed, the bees are likely to react adversely. Generally, the chances of being injured by any stinging insect are slim.
  • Summary Being aware of your surroundings and taking simple precautions is the best defense against Africanized honey bees. With that in mind you still have to be aware of this potential threat and know how to react if you encounter Africanized Bees as you would with any other natural threat such as lightning, snakes or other biting/stinging insects.
  • FDACS/DPI Apiary Trivia
    • FDACS/DPI staff served as technical consultants on Ulee’s Gold (Peter Fonda’s Oscar-winning film)
  • FDACS/DPI Helpline 888-397-1517 www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry
  • Thank you. Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry