Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Africanized Bees Update

Press Release from Georgia Department of Agriculture

Two additional colonies of Africanized bees have been found in Georgia near the area where a man died from an attack. The colonies were destroyed immediately. Entomological tests confirmed that Africanized honeybees were responsible for the death the elderly Dougherty County man in October. It was the first record of the strain in Georgia.

Since then, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has been monitoring bee swarms, trapping and testing suspect bees. Testing of more than 90 samples identified two more colonies in the southern half of the state near the first confirmed colony.

“It is unclear how Africanized honeybees arrived in Dougherty County,” said Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin. “The bees could have come from almost anywhere.”

Africanized bee swarms are occasionally found on cargo ships coming from South or Central America. A container from one of these ships could have been transported via rail or truck from almost any seaport. Some beekeepers from other states winter their bees in Georgia. Some commercial beekeepers that produce honey or pollinate crops move their bees to California, Florida, Texas and other states where Africanized honeybees are established. Finally, a beekeeper in the area could have purchased bees or queens that had African genes from a commercial beekeeper in another state.

“The important thing to keep in mind,” says Irvin, “is that other states and countries have learned to live with Africanized honeybees. “We need to move beyond the hype of ‘killer bees’. Just as we have learned to live with fire ants, we will learn to take certain precautions when in areas where Africanized bees may be established.”

Both the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia stress that beekeepers are the best defense Georgians have against Africanized honeybees. Without responsible beekeepers managing hives in the area, the density of docile European bees will decrease, leaving that area open to infestation by Africanized bees.

For more information on Africanized bees click here.

To view the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service publication on Africanized honeybees, click here.