Killer Bees Are Here!

Learn How To Protect Yourself

By Jessica Swift - The Desert Trial

TWENTYNINE PALMS - "Unfortunately, In the desert, it's always bee season," said Samantha Ireland, beekeeper and a bee removal specialist. Five hives have been removed from Twentynine Palms area locations on Bullion Avenue, Saddle Horn Road, Baseline Road, Chia Avenue and the Hacienda Mobile Home Park since the end of October.
Africanized Honey Bees (AHB), also called killer bees, are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the United States, according to a web site located at www.desertusa.com
In 1956, according to the website, Brazilian scientists imported these bees in an effort to, "breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics," read the web site. The bees escaped quarantine in 1957 and "began breeding with local Brazilian honeybees, quickly multiplying and extending their range throughout South and Central America at a rate greater than 200 miles per year.
"It is within the past decade, however, that Africanized bees entered the United States, reported the site. AHB colonies were first found in California in 1994; "within a year, more than 8,000 square miles of Imperial, Riverside and northeastern San Diego counties were declared officially colonized by Africanized bees," the site reads. The reason for the name "killer bees" is, "because they will viciously attack people and animals who unwittingly stray into their territory, often resulting in serious injury or death," according to the web site.

Killer bees possess some traits that set them apart from other European bees including, "generally a tiny bit smaller, little bit darker and their flight pattern in and out of the hive is different," said Ireland. She further explained that an Africanized bee will fly directly into the hive while a European bee will stop at the opening and walk in. Africanized bees are less discriminating in their choice of hive location including; hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics, utility boxes, garbage containers and abandoned vehicles, reported the site.
Measures can be taken to prevent an inundation of bees in homes, Ireland said. "Exhaust vents around the house should be covered in 1/8 inch screen, which is small enough so the bees can't get in," Ireland said. Also, any openings around water pipes should be filled in with stucco patch and caulking is recommended for eaves, enclosed or otherwise, she added.
Among the list of things to not do around these bees is operating loud machinery and having them sprayed with a pesticide. "You'll kill the bees around the entrance but not the ones inside and then they'll be mad. You'll have to have it sprayed multiple times (before all the bees are killed) then the honeycomb will melt and rats and mice and crickets will be drawn to it. You invite a whole new plethora of other vermin," Ireland said.
"Stay away from them and call a professional for help," she said. When a bee removal specialist like Ireland is called, they have to undergo many steps to ensure successful removal of the killer bees. First they come out and locate where the hive is, then they open up the structure and smoke the bees, Ireland explained. The smoke tricks the bees into thinking there is a fire nearby so they gorge themselves on honey in case they have to leave so they get fat and lazy. The next step is to use a special vacuum, with a bee cage inside, to suck the bees off the honeycomb and into the cage. This process does not hurt the bees, Ireland added.

Finally, the honeycomb is removed from the structure, the debris is cleaned up and the area is washed with soapy water. The void in whatever structure was opened is filled with R-30 insulation and closed up, said Ireland. The soapy water deters bees from moving back into the area because it removes the phermone that bees leave behind; that phermone can last up to 32 years, said Ireland.
Africanized bees communicate with each other through their phermones. When a person, for example, is stung a danger phermone is released which, "let's them know you're the one they're supposed to attack," because they can sense that danger phermone, Ireland said. Despite their aggression, "bees are so valuable. Without them we wouldn't have fruits and veggies. They're so small but so significant," said Ireland.