Africanized Honeybees have arrived in Georgia

Africanized HoneybeeIt was confirmed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs this week that the bees that killed a man in Dougherty Georgia where, in fact, Africanized Honeybees.  The man was clearing his yard of brush with a bulldozer, when he disturbed their nest and received over 100 bee stings.  Georgia’s current Agriculture Commissioner, Tommy Irvin stated, “This is the first record of Africanized honeybees in Georgia”.

African honeybees were brought to Brazil in the 1950s for research when, by accident, some of the queens were released.  Since that point, the African honeybees bred with the local honeybees, creating a hybrid bee, Africanized Honeybees.  Since then they have migrated all over South and Central America as well as Mexico and in 1970 into Texas.  They can also be found in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida and now Georgia.

These bees are more aggressive at defending their hive then European honeybees, which are what we have here in Georgia.  They will attack people or animals within 50 feet of their nest and power equipment within 100 feet.

Their venom or poison is not any stronger than a normal honeybee, but because of their aggressive behavior intruders tend to get more stings.  Thus, it is the number of stings that can kill humans.  That is where they get their nickname, “Killer Bees”.

More About Africanized Honeybees:

  • When establishing new nests, they can be seen swarming.
  • They are extremely territorial and will defend their nests aggressively.
  • Their response when the nest is disturbed is quick and they will attack in large numbers.
  • The nests are found in small cavities and any sheltered area. (under decks or buildings, garages, outbuildings, cans, logs, piles of lumber, the ground, sheds, abandoned vehicles, empty boxes or containers.
  • Africanized Honeybees will pursue an intruder up to ¼ mile.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Always be aware of any buzzing sounds.
  • When entering abandoned, old or remote outbuildings, go in slowly and be vigilant.
  • Inspect an area before starting lawn mowing, trimming or brush removal.
  • Inspect an area before caging livestock or animals.
  • Contact the local Cooperative Extension service or a pest control company when you find an active hive.
  • Never disturb an active nest
  • Seal any openings around a house or outbuilding that are larger than 1/8” in size.

What to do if You Have Been Stung:

  • Get to a safe area.  This includes a house or car.  Know that it is better to have a few bees in the car with you than to stay outside with more than 100.  Hiding in thick brush or water will not help you get away.
  • Never swat at bees, get away as quick as you can
  • Scrape off any stingers from the skin (pulling a stinger out could push more venom into the site)
  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • In order to relieve pain and swelling, put an ice pack on the affected area.
  • If you are allergic to bees or if you are having trouble breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Honeybees play an important part in our food production.  Their pollination of our crops assures a stable crop harvesting.   We can’t live without them, so we need to live safely with them.

The information provided in this article should not be used as medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. It does not take the place of advice from a medical professional.

Sources include: The Georgia Department of Agriculture

Picture from: The National Park Service

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