Attack of the African "Killer Bees"
July 30, 2005
Africanized bees proliferate because they are less discriminating in their choice of nest than native bees, utilizing a variety of natural and manmade objects, including hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics, utility boxes, garbage containers and abandoned vehicles. They also tend to swarm more often than other honeybees.
Obviously, it is best to avoid contact with Africanized Bees. But if contact becomes unavoidable, it is important to know what to do. Bees target the head, and nearly all those who suffer serious stinging incidents with Africanized Bess are overcome by stings to the head and face.
The best method of escaping a bee attack is to cover your
head and run for shelter.
Any covering for your body, especially for your head and face, will help you escape. A small handkerchief or mosquito net device that fits over the head could easily be carried in a pocket.
If you do not have these, grab a blanket, coat, towel, anything that will give you momentary relief while you look for an avenue to escape. If you have nothing else, pull your shirt up over your face. The stings you may get on your chest and abdomen are far less serious than those to the facial area.
- Try to find shelter as soon as possible. Take refuge in a house, tent or a car with the windows and doors closed.
- DO NOT JUMP INTO WATER! Bees will wait for you to come up for air.
- Once you are away from the bees, evaluate the situation. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or if you are having any symptoms other than local pain and swelling, seek medical attention immediately.
- If you see someone else being stung or think others are in danger call 911 immediately.
- Remove stingers as soon as possible to lessen the amount of venom entering the
body. Scrape stingers off the skin with a blunt instrument or plastic card.
Do not remove bee stingers with fingers or tweezer - this only forces toxins
into the victim’s body.
None of the African honeybees have been reported in North Central Florida - yet.
Many authorities have been working on the problem of killer Bees in the United States. Two primary solutions have been considered. The first is termed drone-flooding, which involves maintaining large number of common Honey Bees (originally from Europe) in areas where commercially-reared queen bees mate. This process would limit the mating possibilities between Africanized drones and European queens. The second strategy is requeening frequently, where the beekeeper replaces the queen of the colony, thus assuring that the queens are European honey Bees and that mating has also occurred with European drones.