The Africanized Honeybee first appeared in the United States in 1990.
Although they have not made their presence in Alabama at this time, there has been an established breeding population in multiple states including Florida and Georgia.
According to Randy Hamann of the Alabama Department of Agriculture, “the danger of the Africanized Honeybee is its much more aggressive and its habitat is much more spread out than the European bee.”
Tests have confirmed that multiple stings from Africanized Honeybees were the recent cause of death of an elderly man in Dougherty County, Georgia. Regional Extension Agent, Phillip Carter states that “the Africanized Honeybees will show up in Alabama, now where at, nobody can tell you that.”
So how are the Africanized honeybees spreading? Carter says “they can actually skip over a state you know in other words and end up in another state via different ways of transportation.”
It's impossible to know when or where Africanized bees will enter the state of Alabama, however, in the meantime, traps have been placed around the state so the public can be advised when they arrive.
Randy Hamann says that the Alabama Department of Agriculture is “trying to educate the public by means of brochures, updates on where the Africanized Honeybee is at the present and we're putting out posters at the local extension offices.”
The Africanized Honeybee tends to swarm and nest in unusual areas and may sting people, pets and livestock if they feel their colony is threatened. Carter explains that “they will build a colony in an old tire, just pretty much anywhere, attached to a limb.”
Because Africanized Honeybees look almost identical to the common European Honeybees, if one approaches you or you inadvertently provoke an attack, remember this expert advice...
According to Phillip Carter, “don't start swatting that's the worst thing you can do” and Hamann says to “go into the nearest building, vehicle, anything you can do to get away from them.”
Even though they can be dangerous in large numbers, it is important to remember that one third of our diet relies on honeybee pollination. If you do encounter a disturbed nest, contact a trained pest control operator, beekeeper or state official.
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