Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bee Safety For Kids

Bee Safety For Kids

1.      Bees are our friends, they help make food by pollinating flowers and they make honey for us to eat.

2.      When bees are left alone, they are happy to do their job and are not dangerous.

3.      When bees feel threatened by you or something around you, they will become upset and they can sting.

4.      If bees start chasing you and buzz around your head, you need to leave that area as soon as you can. Run, don’t hide!

5.      Run to your class room, to your home, or to a store and go inside, whatever is closest to help get you away from the bees. Tell your teacher or the first adult you see that bees are chasing you and if you have been stung. They will know what to do.

6.      If you see a large ball of bees hanging in a tree, leave them alone and tell an adult you saw them.


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7.      If you see bees flying in and out of a crack in a wall, a hole in a tree, or just about anywhere, leave them alone and leave the area quickly and tell an adult where they are.


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8.      Again, bees are our friends, but they can get very grumpy if they think someone is trying to hurt them and we do not want them to hurt you. Tell your friends about bee safety.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why do African Honeybees Seek Out and Preferentially...

Why do African Honeybees Seek Out and Preferentially

Re-infest Former Honeybee Colony Sites in Structural Cavities?

          Having exterminated African honeybee colonies (hives) since 1993, in residential & commercial structural cavities, we and most all other bee exterminators agree that other African bee colonies often re-infest or inhabit cavities very close in proximity to the initial infestation.  Although we, at AAA Africanized Bee Removal Specialists, Inc., have developed numerous techniques using highly specialized enzymatic products that significantly reduce, if not eliminate this attractive bee pheromone scent inside of the actual colony cavity, we have found that with each passing season, that new colonies are inhabiting other structural cavities very nearby the initial infestation.  If anything can be done to help reduce the probability of re-infestation, determining the main cause and, if possible, correcting the problem could save the homeowner not only the endangerment and expense of another African Bee Colony, but also reduce the chance of other colonies continually re-infesting, building honeycomb inside and consequently damaging the structure.
          At first it was thought that each season’s additional cumulative infestations, and the increasing colony density of African Bee Colonies, were the main reasons re-infestations were increasing.  Then we noted that infestations were increasing in the proximal area surrounding the original bee colony infestation site, even when the entrances were well sealed.
             We began an experiment using actual African honeybees to ascertain the reasons for this phenomenon, and not only did we conclude that new bee colonies were highly attracted to the initial site, therefore supporting the intense pheromone reduction and treatment our company performs while exterminating a bee colony, but we also discovered that bees are highly attracted to the surface of that structure for about 8 feet surrounding the original colony entrance.  This explains why homeowners experience subsequent infestations in their structures nearby the site of original infestation.

 Methods of our experiment
           We constructed small cages from lumber and 1/8" hardware cloth screen.  These “bee cages” were created with a compartment wherein we could insert live bees through openings on the end.  We selected live worker bees from live exposed African bee swarms and inserted approximately 100 bees in a bee cage.  Bees from swarms were selected because they were of prime age to be comprised of mostly scout bees which, are the bees that are sent out to find a new home for their colony.
          We returned to jobs where we had exterminated an African Bee Colony from a structural cavity in a customer’s home.  We randomly selected former sites with a variety of surfaces from various stucco textures, to wood and lumber siding, to unpainted backyard block walls.  All sites selected were older than one year from the date of the extermination, and excluded sites that had already more than one extermination performed.  We positioned a bee filled bee cage directly against the structural surface at varying distances from the original colony’s main entrance and observed the actions and reactions of the caged bees.
          The results were astounding; the closer to the original bee colony entrance, the quicker the caged bees would all turn and move to the side of the cage touching the structural surface.  The reaction diminished at about 7-8 feet from the original entrance.  Also, we observed that the area where the caged bees reacted was often below the original entrance as well as to the side indicating that the original colony’s bees were spraying their pheromone scent on the exterior of the structure adjacent to the colony as they were either approaching the entrance, or exiting the entrance, or both.  The scent would then fall downward with gravity resulting in the bee attraction pattern we observed.  Although it is still unknown if the bees intentionally spray their pheromone scent, it is probable that such scenting is in fact intentional.  We named the exterior area with the pheromone scent the “pheromone target area.”  

          We duplicated the experiment numerous times while at a site of a former extermination.  We also rotated the bee cage device 180̊, which then effectively caused the pheromone scent perceived by the bees to then be on the opposite side of the cage.  As one might expect, the bees quickly adapted and moved to the side touching the surface of the structure.  Numerous additional variations were employed to ensure that the results were accurate.  It was remarkable how the bees could detect and be attracted to the area surrounding a former bee colony site.

 Research results, discussion and conclusion
          It is well known and accepted by bee scientists, that the pheromone scent bees apply to their occupied colony cavities cannot be removed with detergents or vinegar.  Therefore, during a bee colony extermination, our company uses specific enzymes, under pressure, that have been shown to denature and chemically change the pheromone substance on the interior and exterior of the cavity the bee colony has occupied.  However, until the research explained in this article, the surrounding area around the exterior of the colony entrance was not previously thought to require any treatment.

          When our company does a honeycomb removal and we can gain access to the interior of the cavity the colony occupied, we apply a very effective multi-step process using enzymatic agents to clean, denature and deodorize the bulk of the pheromone scent from the interior surfaces of the cavity.  To see how these products might work on the exterior, we applied them to the surface area surrounding about 8 feet in each direction from a colony entrance when we had previously recorded that site was attractive to our cages bees.  The products we have developed have a relatively strong fragrance at first, so we returned after one week to repeat the test.  We were gratified to see that this additional enzymatic pheromone denature work to the exterior surface of the structure had very noticeable results.  Although, the surface of and location on the structure (i.e. if it is a corner) will likely cause some variance to the success, the caged bees were not attracted to the same structural surface area to which they had been attracted to previously, indicating great value in performing this pheromone treatment on an 8 foot area surrounding the original entrance especially when a honeycomb removal is not necessary.

          During a honeycomb cut-out and removal, our pheromone cleaning process involves several steps applying these enzymatic agents and also scrubbing the interior surface of the cavity.  It is important to note that we did not do any scrubbing of any exterior surfaces as this would likely result in causing a change in the sheen or color of the paint on that surface.  As stated above, there was great value in applying two separate enzymatic products mixed to our specifications in a two step process and apply these products to the exterior surfaces within 8-10' of colony entrance in all directions, but especially below the entrance. 

           With this new evidence that bees will indeed spray their pheromone scent on the structural surface several feet outside the colony entrance, as an additional service, our company will offer to apply the various enzymatic pheromone denaturing treatments to the “pheromone target area” surrounding the original bee colony entrance.  Based on the convincing research results stated above, our company believes that this additional service is crucial in helping to prevent future African honeybee infestations that would otherwise occur.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bee Research Looking for Volunteers!

Medical practitioner and scientists are stating that the human body can withstand 1,000 bee stings and still survive. We are looking for any individual taking that position to volunteer for an experimental 500 bee sting health test to test their position.

This is a rant against the medical community and scientists who have studied the effects of bee venom in the human body. There are actually professional medical practitioners and scientists out there that are saying that the human body can withstand 1,000 bee stings and still survive.  This would be very rare.

Bee venom is designed to cause an allergic reaction and shock. The misconception comes from the fact that our emergency services personnel are well trained to treat for shock – in this case anaphylactic shock. Even with one sting, a person can suffer anaphylactic shock, depending on their immune system’s response to the bee venom injected. Once the person stung is safely out of shock, you still have the fact of envenomation.

Envenomation usually follows a predictable cycle. There is a curve of intense danger that can cause heart attacks, organ failure from the poison and maybe central nervous system failure. It is no different from snake bites, wood scorpion bites, or in some cases black widow spider bites. It is a matter of how much venom that the body has to overcome and the victim’s immune system’s ability to handle it. The envenomation period has to be monitored carefully in a hospital.

Although I support the fact that our medical community thinks they have this under control and are capable of handling it, I wonder why so many people still are dying from bee attacks? Let’s get real on this! People can die from bee stings.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Purchasing Live Honeybees For Use In Apitherapy

Frankly, we have been puzzled lately by more frequent requests by people that offer to buy live bees for the purpose of practicing Apitherapy.  Usually, they want to purchase just five or six live worker bees to follow the practice of stinging themselves for the possible health benefits they can derive from the stings. Most beekeepers would think, ok, sure, why not? That is until you start thinking about the liability.

Although I have no argument about the practice, I always ask if they have consulted a medical doctor and if they know what they are doing. Bee venom can be very dangerous to people who are not guided by a registered Allergists or Apitherapists.

The good news is that they do not have to buy bees. Bees are abundant and available, if you know how to work with their behaviors. If you want to gather worker bees, simply put out a Petri sized dish, with a wash cloth liner, and pour in a mixture of honey and water. Honey will ferment quickly on its own if you don’t add water – experiment with the mixture considering evaporation and heat.

Using the maxim from the movie “Field of Dreams: if you build it they will come,” in several hours, you should have bees at your mini feeding station. Next, simply put a wide mouthed jar over the station and, as the bees rise, simply remove the jar and cap it. Provide ventilation holes in the cap.

If you are having trouble attracting bees to your station, consider changing the mixture of honey and water, then, if it still does not work, use an old beekeeper’s trick to attract them quickly to a new commercial feeding station. Burn a little honeycomb in a 10oz can nearby.

Please remember, also, that dead bees can sting as long as they are wet and not dried out.

I hope this helps our apitherapy friends, please, just be careful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bee Removal Services and Honeycomb Removal Services In Arizona. Caution!


As bee removal and honeycomb removal specialists, we are often called after another bee removal company or pest control company has failed to properly take care of a residential or commercial honeycomb removal. Many pest control companies won’t perform honeycomb removals because of the labor and time to do it. Many of our bee removal competitors will only do, what we call a” Rip and Tear.” That means they will only remove the visible honeycomb for a low price. That price may or may not include repairs. Let me give you photographic evidence of some of the jobs we have taken under these circumstances.

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1. First Picture – Upper Left Side: Look at the bee brood left to rot in the structural cavity.

2. Second Picture –Upper Right Side: This is a perfect example of a “Rip and Tear.” Look at the damage visible. You get what you pay for!

3. Third Picture – Bottom Left Side: An example of honey laden cells – left without removal, it will melt down and attract other bees until you suffer re-infestation, and you will.

4. Fourth Picture – Bottom Right Side: Imagine this dripping down your interior wall.

On top of this, many of our competitor’s don’t know how to treat the Nasonov pheromone the bees use to track the site. It does not go away by itself and, unless removed, will alert a passing swarm that this was a former bee site and ready for re-occupation. Please review a more comprehensive article on the pheromone at :

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Caution: The Summer Months Are Here–Africanized Honeybees Will Be More Aggressive!


When the temperatures start rising into the 100’s, expect new and established Africanized honeybee colonies to become more aggressive.  Heat becomes a major problem for them. They will cast many more foraging bees to gather and bring back water than they would ordinarily do for pollen and nectar foraging. They may work hard to bring back as much as a gallon of water and hour just to fan and cool their honey comb to support brood development and keep their honeycomb and honey stores from melting down.

Unfortunately, this will cause a state of agitation and anxiety in the colony. With more bees out, and a greater amount of guard bees set out for defense, bad things are more likely to happen if the colony is disturbed.

Please be advised that this is when many stinging attacks may occur. If you know of an established colony nearby, or if you have one that you have co-existed with that you think is not Africanized because they have never bothered you before, this is the time to be cautious around them. Let’s not get anybody hurt in Arizona, or anyone else in the desert southwest this year!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Come Join Us! Beekeeping World Wide.

I would like to invite all our beekeeper friends to come join our group – Beekeepers World Wide – on We have have  excellent commentators and people that are very serious about topics relating to beekeeping throughout the world. We would appreciate your knowledge and contributions, Thank you. Tom.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paper Wasps in Arizona


A commonly encountered stinging insect species in Arizona is the Golden Paper Wasp, polistes fuscatus. They are common in North American and very plentiful in the Sonora Desert region. They will aggressively defend their nesting sites. Since a single wasp may sting multiple times and still retain its stinger, Paper Wasp infestations are considered potentially very dangerous to humans, livestock and pets.
Paper Wasp, polistes fuscatus, colonies develop through a predictable yearly cycle. It is a matriarchal society dominated by a fertile queen that lays eggs and establishes her position in the colony by aggressive behavior towards other wasps. Other fertile females, called daughters or sisters, are subordinate and determine their position in the hierarchy by aggressive behaviors. If the queen dies, the next most aggressive fertile female in line will take dominance and continue laying eggs. The fertile females, including the queen, take on the burden of initial nest building and foraging. They forage for flower nectar to feed themselves and the adults and for grubs and caterpillars to feed their young.
A typical Paper Wasp nest looks like a grey, conical waffle cone. The wasps make the cells by chewing wood and forming cellulose that hardens into a paper-like material. A nest can be the size of a quarter to the size of a dinner plate. The number of wasps in an established nest can range anywhere from 15 to well over 100. A family of wasps may also have multiple nests in a general location. The nests may be open and exposed or hidden in crevices and cavities. It is important to realize that in any specific location, you are dealing with a family of related wasps. In a large infestation, there will likely be more than one nesting site.
In the spring, after the initial nest is built by the new queen and her attendant sisters, daughter and worker wasps are incubated. Worker wasps are non-fertile females who protect the nesting site and take over the duties of expanding the nest and feeding the young. They are generally smaller and have noticeably darker wings. Worker wasps are responsible for most wasp attacks. They will respond aggressively and vigorously to any perceived threat in the vicinity of the nesting site. They guard the site and it is common to see them on the exterior of a hidden nesting area.
Male wasps are only produced in the fall at the end of the yearly wasp cycle. They fertilize new daughters who will hibernate in the winter to become queens or sisters in the spring when the weather warms. In most parts of North America, all but the fertilized new daughters die in the winter cold. However, in the Sonora Desert basin, we have found that in our mild winter climate, colonies may survive intact in protected areas. As a result, our desert southwest Paper Wasp colonies can grow to be unusually large in size and, consequently, be more dangerous and defensive of their nesting sites. Although much media attention has been given to Africanized honeybees (killer bees), because of their numbers in any given attack, Paper Wasps can be just as aggressive and lethal and will seldom abandon a home nesting site unless dealt with properly.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Have Bees and Wasps in My Pool - What is Water Foraging?

I Have Bees and Wasps in My Pool – What is Water Foraging?

The summer months bring hundreds of calls from people throughout Arizona and other southwestern states experiencing an increased number of African honeybees and wasps at their fountains, swimming pools, bird baths, ponds, pet water bowls, leaky sprinkler heads, and irrigation systems, etc. Large numbers of bees and wasps taking water from a swimming pool can virtually make the pool un-useable during the hot summer months.

 These water foraging bees typically settle and drink water for 30 or 45 seconds at the water source and then fly away. These bees are taking water back to their established colonies to keep the beeswax that makes up the honeycomb from melting. Honeybees store their nectar, honey, pollen (bee bread), eggs and developing babies (brood) in the cells of the beeswax based honeycomb. If the temperature exceeds 86F to 92F the wax will begin to melt, causing the bees to lose the structure that contains their food stores and offspring. For these reasons, honeybees will send out a lot of water foragers to bring back water to pour on the honeycomb, and then the bees will line up facing the same direction and fan their wings to cause evaporation of the water and keep the honeycomb cool, like an evaporative cooler.

African honeybees, commonly called “killer bees” are now pervasive in the southwestern United States. Their colonies tend to be more aggressive during the hot summer months and are more irritable because of the constant struggle to maintain their honeycomb and the large numbers of workers that are sent out to forage for water accomplish this task. If you are in the proximity of a known established bee colony, expect it to be in a much more aggressive and irritable state. If you are aware of an established bee colony in proximity, it should be exterminated immediately by a licensed bee removal specialist to prevent harm to humans, pets or livestock. If you are unsure of the colonies location, you may wish to have your property inspected by a licensed bee removal specialist to eliminate the possibility of any direct or indirect threat. In fact, we strongly advise that you do so.

Most commonly, you will see more water foraging bees and wasps in the morning and evening with fewer being present during the hottest part of the day, depending on how hot it is. Bees and wasps do not gather water after dark. Water foraging bees may be individually aggressive, protecting their water site, but will not attack in mass. They are simply gathering water and have no reason to try to defend the water source as they would the area around their home colonies. Additionally, you may have water foraging bees and wasps from many different bee colonies and wasp nests at the same water source.

There is no perfect bee removal or wasp removal solution for water foraging bees and wasps other than to eliminate the water, or the access to the water source. Generally, in most states, the use of pesticides around any water source is forbidden. Most insecticides, even if they are approved for use on bees or wasps, are water soluble and thereof not safe to use. Otherwise, there are a few things you can try, working with bee and wasp behaviors, none of which are known to be 100% successful. They are not listed in order of effectiveness below:

1. As stated above, you can either eliminate the water or eliminate the access to the water for at least 4 days to a week. This may require multiple attempts over a period of time. Swimming pool covers may be helpful if they totally restrict access to the water.

2. Change the alkalinity of the water with baking soda. You can get an alkalinity test kit and chart from any pool supply store in your local area. Consult your local pool service or supplier for information on the effects of this procedure on your particular type of pool and its structural surfaces.

3. Purchase a light colored, plastic pan, such as a dish pan or kitty litter pan; place some clean, rough, fist-sized rocks in the pan. Place the pan as close to the area where the bees are currently foraging as possible. Put water, flavored with honey (1-2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water), into the pan. You must continue to keep this honey-laced water in the pan until the bees begin using it preferentially. Once you see that more bees are using the pan with the honey-laced water than the pool, fountain, etc., you can slowly move the pan away from the original water source at a rate of about 1' per hour, until you get the pan to a less intrusive spot on your property. Once the bees are trained to use the pan, you can use plain water, but you MUST KEEP WATER IN THE PAN, all the time or the bees will go back to using the original water source. Make sure you don’t cover the rocks with water. The bees have to have a place to land and hold on to so they can get their mouth parts to the water, but keep their bodies dry and out of the water.

4. Nightly, scrub the hard surfaces of the site where the bees are landing with a very mild solution of vinegar & water. This will reduce the pheromone the bees have individually applied to the site that helps them find their way back to this specific area. After drinking, each individual bee will deposit a pheromone scent marker at the spot before it leaves and will generally return to the same spot. Nightly scrubbing may help confuse the water foragers.

5. In a hand-held spray bottle with about a one quart capacity, mix in a couple ounces of “liquid smoke” with water. Liquid smoke, a food additive, can be commonly found in grocery stores. You can add glycerin to make it last longer on the surface, if it won’t damage or stain the area to which you are applying it. A couple of hours before you are going to be in your pool or spa, etc., begin spraying this smoky smelling solution around the dry areas, as close to the area where the bees are gathering to forage for water, as possible. You will have to re-apply this as the smoky smell diminishes, but this will help deter the bees from using your water source while you are trying to be in the area. You may have to adjust the ratio of liquid smoke to water until you find the most effective concentration. Avoid direct contact with the water. Again, it is not necessary to do this after dark. The bees will be back in their colonies for the night.

None of these suggestions really works for water foraging wasps. Wasps can float on the surface of the water to drink. Your pool maintenance person can put an additive in your pool that lessens the surface tension of the water so the wasps aren’t able to land on the surface without drowning. Consult your local pool service provider. Other than that, the best solution is to locate where the wasps are nesting, usually nearby, and have them exterminated.

These suggestions may be helpful, we hope so. Unfortunately, whether or not there are natural water sources like mud puddles, ponds, etc. available to them, the bees still need water when it’s hot and will go to un-natural sources if they are forced to do so. You may have the only suitable water source for miles and if that is the case, none of the above suggestions will be very helpful, except restricting or preventing access to the water source.  As the temperature decreases or the availability of natural water sources increases, such as during the monsoon season, you will experience a decrease in the amount of water foraging bees and wasps.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What Should I Do if I Have Located an Africanized Honeybee Colony?

What Should I Do if I Have Located an Africanized Honeybee Colony?
If you do discover a honeybee colony on your property, immediately look under Bee Removal in the Yellow Pages and call a company who is licensed with the Office of Pest Management. Beware of companies who advertise that they are licensed; however, they may not be legitimately licensed with the Office of Pest Management. By law, in Arizona, a licensed pest control company must display their OPM license number in their display advertising. Companies which are not licensed with the Office of Pest Management are unable to purchase the appropriate chemicals with which to eradicate an established colony as these chemicals are restricted and are sold only to licensed Pest Control Operators. Using the wrong chemicals can cause an attack, can result in bees fleeing the pesticide and coming inside the living space of the home, and can cause nausea or chemical reactions in people with chemical sensitivity.
Unlicensed individuals do not necessarily obtain adequate education or carry an appropriate amount of liability insurance as licensed Pest Control Operators are required by law to do. Additionally, it is a Class 6 felony to apply pesticides on property you do not own without an OPM license. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ERADICATE THE BEES YOURSELF, unless you are a licensed Pest Control Operator and bee removal specialist and know the appropriate procedures to follow to abate and control an Africanized honeybee colony.
African honeybees colonize a chosen site very quickly. They are potentially very dangerous to humans, pets and livestock, and should be treated with respect. They are an invasive species to Arizona and other southwestern states, extremely adaptable to our climate and already well established throughout the southwest. Outside of the danger a resident African honeybee colony presents, they also cause tremendous structural damage to residential and commercial properties in terms of honeycomb meltdown, saturation of materials, wet rot and pheromone deposits which, left untreated, will almost certainly lead to future bee infestations, even if the original colony has been removed.  We do not have a bee scarcity problem as has been the case with some of the northern state’s European honeybee populations. African honeybee colonies are plentiful in the desert southwest and the only control on their expansion that we have observed is drought and long periods of extended freezing cold. If you have a resident bee colony on your home or property, or if you know of one nearby, realize it is very probable that it is Africanized and should be removed by a licensed bee removal specialist company.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Consumer's Guide to Bee Removal Services

Please enjoy our new eBook: "A Consumer's Guide to Bee Removal Services." While specifically discussing africanized honeybee infestations and the bee removal services industry in Arizona, it has important information for anyone that has a bee problem.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can You Hear Me?


What Do I Do If I'm Attacked by Africanized Honeybees?

What Do I Do If I’m Attacked by Africanized Honeybees?
If you are stung by a honeybee, if possible, SCRATCH THE STINGER OUT to remove it from your skin. TRY NOT TO PINCH it to pull it out, that will only inject more of the venom into you. However, if you can’t scratch it out, get it out as quickly as possible in any manner, rather than leave it in until you can get something to scratch it out. The venom sac will continue pulsing, injecting the venom into you as long as the stinger is embedded in your skin. If you are “bumped” or chased by honeybees, get away as quickly as you can safely do so. You don’t want to run and trip and fall if you are on rocky or uneven ground. Get into your vehicle or inside a home if at all possible. You may bring bees in with you, but they will fly to the windows trying to get out.  DO NOT JUMP INTO A POOL OR LAKE, the bees will wait for you to surface.  Also, do not run up to another person and ask for help as you will involve them in the attack. Honeybees target areas on your body where carbon dioxide is exiting. They will begin stinging around your nose, mouth, eyes, etc. Do not flail or attempt to swat the bees, just get away as quickly as you can safely do so. If you can cover your face, except your eyes, as you make your retreat it will be helpful. If you can’t get inside a house or car, you must get at least ¼ mile away before the bees will stop attacking you. Once you have been targeted as a threat, and the “attack pheromone” inherent in a sting is released, you have very few options other than distance and finding complete cover.
 If you begin to have difficulty breathing after you are stung, it is critical to get emergency assistance immediately. It is also prudent to seek medical attention if you have been stung more than 15 times. A normal reaction for a person who is not allergic to a bee sting may include swelling and redness in the area of the sting, after a day or two you may experience extreme itching. If the swelling continues to spread, consult a physician. When you are first stung and after you have scratched out the stinger, you can make a paste of baking soda and water and put it on the sting site to relieve some of the pain. If you are not sensitive to antihistamines, they may also help (consult your doctor if there is any doubt).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Will our above-normal temps create more african bee colonies this spring?

     African or (Africanized) honeybee queen bees, on average, lay 1,500 worker bee eggs per day.  This is almost 50% more per day than European honeybee queen bees lay.  In both sub-species, the more hours each day that the temperature is conducive for egg laying, the more eggs are layed.  Late winter and early spring is critical to bee colony build-up.  Provided that there is adequate pollen available, African bee colonies will "urge" there respective queen bees to lay eggs earlier in the morning and later in the evening when temps are warmer.  Conversely, when temps are colder than "normal", the reverse is true.

     Thus far, 2012 has been warmer than normal, largely due the the factors surrounding the La Nina weather pattern.  Consequently, those persons who live in all of southern and central Arizona, and the other southern states where African bees inhabit, must be vigilant when walking around structures and other locations where African Honeybees are likely to occupy.

     As it is now well documented by the various individual states' departments of Agriculture, that essentially, there are no more "feral" European Honeybee colonies in the Southwestern US, it is prudent to assume that any feral bee colony is an African Bee
 Colony.  Therefore, never attempt to treat a bee colony yourself.  Always contact an experienced licensed bee removal company equipped to properly exterminate a bee colony. We expect a busy bee season this year.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How Do Africanized Honeybees Colonize Your Home So Quickly?

How Do Africanized Honeybees Colonize Your Home So Quickly?
Africanized honeybees (African honeybees) are well established in central and southern Arizona. They are an invasive species and there are very few to no feral European bee colonies left in the wild. In order to establish more colonies, honeybees raise a new queen and the old queen and one half of the members of the mother colony leave in what are called a swarm. These swarms are usually made up of between 8,000 and 15,000 bees. People frequently see swarms flying through the air, swirling like a tornado of bees, buzzing loudly. Often these swarms will land on a tree or bush in a large clump. Other times, they will land on a structure with a small opening to a larger cavity, such as the vent boards of a house, a concrete block perimeter wall with a crack in the mortar, a water valve box, saguaro cactus, etc. When a swarm of African honeybees land on a structure of any type, they have found a new home and immediately begin funneling into the selected cavity through the small opening previously discovered, nearly disappearing inside within 10-15 minutes. Any opening large enough to slip an ordinary writing pencil into is large enough for the bees to enter.
Whereas European honeybees swarm once in the late spring and very occasionally in the fall, Africanized honeybees, apis mellifera scutellata, may swarm up to 15 times a year in ideal environmental conditions. This fact alone helps to explain why Africanized bees have become so prevalent in Arizona, although the first colony wasn’t discovered and identified until 1993, in Tucson. Since that time the number of Africanized honeybee colonies has increased dramatically.
Once inside the selected cavity, the bees begin exploring and cleaning the cavity, spreading their pheromone scent and building honeycomb. Pheromones are glandular secretions the bees use extensively to communicate with each other throughout the hive. In this case, the most damaging scent for the homeowner is the tracking scent they apply that marks the site as unique to that particular colony. Foraging bees from the colony can recognize the scent from as far as two miles away and use it to track back home. Unfortunately, unless treated, the scent is long lasting and can lead to future infestations. Even if the original colony is no longer in residence, a passing swarm of bees can register the pheromone and will occupy a former bee site preferentially to other new locations.
Often, the homeowner’s first clue that they have a bee problem is when they begin finding bees inside the house.  As the newly-arrived honeybees explore the cavity they have selected and before it is well marked with their pheromone scent, some of the bees who are exploring the cavity will get too far away from the outside entrance and no longer be able to see the light coming from that entrance. In an effort to find another way outside, these lost bees may come into the living area of the house via lighting fixtures or outlets or other small openings. They will immediately fly to the brightest light they see, during the day they will fly to a window or skylight, at night to a lamp. People will often think the bees have come in through a hole in a screen or through a door. This is very seldom true.
These lost bees do not want to be inside your house; they must be with the rest of the colony to survive and are trying to get back to the outside entrance. If you discover dead or dying bees below your window, glass door, skylight, or other light-filled area, you should take some time to walk slowly around the outside of your home. Frequently homeowners are able to locate the outside entrance to the cavity the bees have colonized. You may be able to see 3-4 bees or more going in and out of a specific opening or area of your home as they begin to forage for pollen, nectar and water. This activity indicates the entrance to a cavity the bees are using and starting to develop. If you discover dead bees in the house, call a licensed bee removal specialist immediately to have the colony located and eradicated. Do not allow a new colony to become well established and create a dangerous situation. As the bees build honeycomb, the queen will begin to lay eggs, as many as 1,500 per day. The queen may begin laying eggs as soon as two days after the bees arrive, and sufficient honeycomb structure is built, and the eggs of Africanized honeybees may hatch as quickly as 19 days after they are deposited in honeycomb cells. The honeycomb cells are also used by the foragers who immediately begin bringing nectar and pollen back to the colony to store it in these cells. Reflecting on the fact that 21 days after the bees arrive, there may be 1,500 more bees, and then the next day 1,500 more bees than the day before, etc., one can see why it is recommended that you call a licensed bee removal specialist immediately upon discovering you have bees in a structure.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What are the Signs of Honeybee Colonization?

What are the Signs of Honeybee Colonization?
When you see a colony or swarm of honeybees it is appropriate and wise to assume they are Africanized and should be treated with respect. These bees have justly earned the reputation and handle of “Killer Bees.” Many, many animal deaths, including dogs, horses, cows, rabbits, ducks, geese and chickens have been caused by the stings of Africanized honeybees. Men and women have also been killed or critically injured by Africanized honeybee stings. Aside from being overly aggressive, these honeybees are unpredictable. We often take calls from people who say they have had bees under their shed for a year and have never been bothered, then, on that day, they walked past their shed and 50 bees chased them into the house. Shed colonies are perhaps one of the most dangerous situations commonly faced by homeowners and their neighbors. Most of the dogs who have been stung to death in Tucson have died as a result of a neighbor’s unknown, or ignored shed colony. These colonies will frequently perceive a threat because of repeated barking of a dog next door. It is thought that the vibration resulting from the barking triggers the attack. Once these bees begin stinging, they will continue long after the dog is dead. Further, they will attack not only the barking dog, they will go after any animal or human within about a one-quarter mile radius. The 46-year-old Sunizona woman who died in 2002 as a result of an Africanized honeybee attack knew the bees were in her shed wall for over a year without incident. No one knows why bumping the shed wall on that particular day caused such an extreme reaction from that Africanized honeybee colony. She suffered enough bee stings to cause her death. Her boyfriend, who it is claimed suffered more than 200 bee stings, but was a much larger person, was in intensive care for several days due to the effects of the bee stings. If you know you have a honeybee colony on your property and you experience bees bumping into your face and head as you get close to the colony, you are being given a relatively gentle warning that you are threatening them. Bumping frequently, but not always, occurs before an all-out attack is launched. Bumping is sure indication that you have an established colony nearby.
The eradication of honeybee colonies on private property is the responsibility of the owner. Once you have knowledge of a honeybee colony’s presence on your property, you have liability, should someone else be injured. It is important that you walk around your property weekly observing any bee flight. Important indicators that you may or may not have a honeybee colony include:
1. Direct bee flight, usually not more than 3-4 bees going in and out of the entrance within about one minute, is a strong indicator of colonization. The entrance is usually a small crack or opening which leads to a larger cavity. If the colony has been resident for a fairly long period of time, you may see a dark stain just below the opening. If you are close enough, and you see that the bees have pollen on their back legs, it is a sure sign that there is an established colony. In and out behaviors from any specific opening should be treated with caution. You may wish to have a licensed bee removal specialist perform an inspection of the site to provide certainty.
2. Finding dead bees under a light you leave on at night. Bees in an established colony within line of sight of a porch light or other light visible from the outside are attracted to the light and will fly at the light until they are exhausted and will usually die, dropping below the light. If this is happening at your home, look around your property during daylight hours and try to locate bees flying away to a specific location. If this is not on your property, you should contact the property owner and alert them to this hazard.
3. A few common areas in homes where colonies become established include, behind vent boards, in house walls going in through holes where conduit or pipes go into your home, in boxed-in beams, below or above bay windows, inside decorative stucco pop-outs of any sort, through scuppers into parapet walls, Vega beams, under decks, above ground spas, sheds, dog houses and play houses, inside water or irrigation valve boxes, inside old tires, under boat covers when the boat is used infrequently, at joints between two sections of manufactured homes, and under the belly pan of mobile homes.
4. You do not have a bee problem if you see bees going from flower to flower in your garden or on blooming trees. Even though there may be many bees moving through the flowers, and you hear loud buzzing noises, these are worker bees that may originate from many different local colonies. They will not attack in mass. When the peak blooming period is has passed, they will move on to other forage sources.
5. It is common to have bees foraging for water in your pond, pool or water feature, or fountain. There will be more bees during hotter times of the year and when there are fewer natural sources of water as is the case during a drought. The bees require water to keep their honeycomb cool and prevent it from melting down. These bees are not usually aggressive, and don’t attack in mass, but can be a nuisance and you may be stung if you should happen to put your hand on one. Heavy foraging for water is an indication that there are established colonies near your home or on your property. Again, you may wish to have a licensed bee removal specialist perform an inspection of the site to provide certainty.
6. During times when there are not a lot of natural sources for pollen and nectar, honeybees will forage on other sweet liquids including soda, fruit juice, jelly (perhaps dropped onto a table from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich), humming bird feeders, etc. You can avoid this foraging behavior by keeping lids on garbage cans, or if there are no lids, the trash bags should be changed frequently. Wipe down or hose down areas where sweet substances may have been dropped as people are eating or where trash has been discarded. Hummingbird feeders should be taken down at night when the bees are not foraging and removed from the site for at least a week.
Many people report to us that they do not think their bees are Africanized because they have never been aggressive. Please do not make this assumption. As has been discussed, this false assumption is the cause of many stinging deaths and injuries in Arizona and other southwestern states. African honeybees are not always aggressive; however, they can be extremely defensive if they perceive they are in danger.  Known triggers for all-out bee attacks are the presence of dark colors in the vicinity of the colony, vibrations and loud noises, and foreign scents like perfumes or insecticides. It is also a false assumption that African honeybees can be harassed or “smoked out” to the point that they will leave their home site voluntarily.  If they leave (abscond) voluntarily, it is because they have run out of available food sources in their forage area.

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Do Africanized Honeybees Take Over Domestic and Native Honeybee Populations?

We are often asked by people how Africanized Honeybees (AHBs) have moved into Arizona so quickly and taken over our native wild bee populations so effectively. We as professional commercial beekeepers and bee removal specialists have perspective on this from direct experience with our own commercial hives derived from experimentation, observation and applying beekeeping practices. This article will attempt to summarize our experiences in how African honeybees are so successful in environmental domination over resident bee species.
First, for purposes of clarification, honeybees are not originally native to Arizona. Although Arizona is bio-diverse in native pollinators and plant specific pollinators, the first recorded introduction of honeybees to our area originated with the Spanish missionaries. During their mission building period in the late 1500s and 1600s, honeybees were introduced to provide honey to sweeten sacramental wine. The species they introduced were Italian honeybees, (apis mellifera lingustica) which are known to be better adapted to hot climates than other species of European honeybees (EHBs). As a natural result of periodic bee swarming, swarms were cast into the local environment and developed into a population of native honeybees that was existent before the arrival of Africanized honeybees.
Second, the term “Africanized honeybees” may be a misnomer; it would suggest some degree of hybridization between native bee populations and the pure African honeybee strain (apis mellifera scutellata) that was originally brought to Brazil from Tanzania and has spread so quickly through South America and into North America. This is a controversial area and still the subject to much discussion, but from our experience, we claim African honeybees, widely known as “killer bees”, are genetically dominant and when they absorb a native honeybee colony, that colony is quickly converted and demonstrates all the characteristics of a pure African honeybee colony.
So, given these observations, how do African honeybees spread so quickly, dominate any given area and absorb local native honeybee populations? There are three methods we have observed.
1.      Dominance by frequent swarming.

Whereas European honeybees swarm once or twice a year under optimal environmental conditions, African honeybees swarm much more frequently. European honeybees will occupy and literally “farm” a specific area and will produce large amounts of honeycomb. Large amounts of stored honey help European honeybees to survive through extended periods of freezing cold in the winter months and survive in higher elevations. In contrast, African honeybees will produce less honey; devote much of their honey stores into brood development and, as a result do not do as well in periods of extended freezing cold or in higher elevations. Their survival strategy is propagation and expansion, much more than occupation of a specific area. If food sources are used up or depleted in a specific area of colonization, it is not uncommon for the entire colony to abandon the area and abscond.

Swarming is the process whereby honeybees will periodically sub-divide and send out a group of bees to find and establish a new home somewhere else. Usually, about 60% of the worker bees and the old queen bee are pushed out of the hive by the newly developed queen bee. The old queen carries the genetic characteristics of her ancestors and, in my opinion, the experiential knowledge of her lineage with it.

African honeybees frequently swarm and expand; it is their strategy for survival and the propagation of their species. In the desert southwest, if forage is depleted and water is scarce, as in drought periods, frequent swarming and absconding behaviors increase the African honeybees’ chance of survival.

2.  Dominance by fertilization.

Newly emerged queen bees will leave the colony to go out on a “mating flight” before they return their colony to become the primary egg layer and before the old queen is superseded (replaced) or leaves in a swarm. Whenever queens are cast, male bees (drones) are cast in advance and are available for fertilization. During the queen bees mating flight, she may be fertilized by as many as six drone bees and that will last her for life, usually from four to six years.  African queen bees emerge several days before European queen bees. African drone bees are produced in much larger numbers than in European honeybee colonies. As a result, cast European queen bees have a higher probability of being fertilized by African drone bees. Since African honeybee genes are dominate, a European honeybee colony can be converted by fertilization with African drones. Conversely, an African queen bee, because of genetic dominance, will not be affected by mating with a European drone bee.

 3. Dominance by usurpation.

Usurpation is a process whereby African honeybees will seek out and absorb a native honeybee  hive in their local area. In Tanzania, they were commonly referred to as “assassin bees.”  Typically, an African queen bee and five to fifteen worker bees will be sent out for the specific purpose of taking over a local native bee hive. This group of assassins will carefully land and  group under the entrance to the native beehive and wait until they adjust their pheromone   scent content to that of the native bee colony. Once accomplished, without disturbing the guard   bees, they enter the hive and kill the resident queen bee, her developing queen larvae and take over the process of laying eggs. Within four to six weeks, the approximate life span of a worker  bee, the colony, hive, will be converted and completely absorbed.
We can’t really argue with scientists on whether or not African honeybees hybridize or eventually can be domesticated by using beekeeping practices like periodic replacement of African queen bees with Italian queen bees. However, we do know we’ve tried it. We seriously doubt that any of these efforts will affect our wild, native honeybee population in Arizona for all of the reasons listed above. We know, from our experience as professional commercial beekeepers and bee removal specialists that Africanized honeybees, “killer bees,” have the potential of being very dangerous to humans, livestock and pets. It is common to hear someone report to us that they don’t believe their bees are Africanized because they have not been aggressive. We work with African honeybees. They are not always aggressive. The point is that they can be aggressive and extremely defensive depending on how long their colony has had a chance to develop and how they perceive they are being threatened. Our advice is to not take the chance. If you have a honeybee colony on your property or in proximity, have it checked out by a licensed bee removal specialist company, hopefully experienced in beekeeping, and find out. There have been too many stinging injuries and deaths in Arizona, and other southwestern states, to assume otherwise.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Medicinal Uses of Raw Honey

Did you know that raw honey is bacteria static? This means that bacteria cannot grow in honey.  Also, outside of honey’s value as a food source and natural sweetener, it also has anti-fungal properties and is replete with local pollens.  Raw honey is commonly used by allergists to help people with localized allergy problems.

We, as professional beekeepers and bee removal specialists, well know raw honey’s properties for preventing infection from our experience in working our beehives and performing honeycomb removals. We very seldom get infections in cuts and scratches. It is also well recorded in history that Imhotep, the great pyramid builder of the Egyptian 3rd dynasty, used honey extensively to treat his workers that were injured. He even used honey to prevent infection on surgeries, compound fractures, serious lacerations, burns and abrasions. Raw honey has been revered for its medicinal value in preventing bacterial infection for thousands of years.

Propolis, is another interesting product that bees use and produce. Propolis has strong anti-fungal properties. Honeybees will periodically gather exuded sap from trees and bushes, process the sap and apply the mixture as a “bandage” to repair and harden their honeycomb cells. The phenols from the sap are transferred to the surrounding beeswax and raw honey in the cells. Propolis can be isolated from the beeswax and is a commercial, but not well known or well researched product. The honeybees also use it to prevent fungal infections for their eggs and brood. The point is that its properties are carried in raw honey.

In our modern age of pasteurized, irradiated and processed foods, artificial sweeteners and food preservatives, we often forget the value of some of the natural foods we have been given. Raw, unpasteurized, honey is one of the best examples. When bees move into an area and establish a beehive, they adapt to the local environment quickly and effectively. They are great pollinators and live in a symbiotic relationship with local flowering plants and trees. I would further submit that they adapt to and control local bacteria and fungi. Raw, unpasteurized, honey carries all the qualities of their success at local adaptation.

My grandfather, an old beekeeper, used to take honeycomb right out of the beehives that he kept and chew it like chewing gum. He maintained that, outside of grandmother’s chicken soup and cod liver oil, it was the best way to prevent and reduce cold and flu symptoms. It is safe, clean and valuable in its natural state. There is still much in the medicinal uses of raw honey that needs to be explored.