What is in this article?:
- Africanized honeybees found in Georgia
- First found in Texas
• News reports say the man accidentally disturbed a feral colony of bees with his bulldozer and that he received more than 100 stings. This is the first record of Africanized honeybees in Georgia.
• Africanized honeybees are less predictable and more defensive than European honeybees. They are more likely to defend a wider area around their nest and respond faster and in greater numbers than European honeybees.
First found in Texas
Africanized honeybees first appeared in the U.S. in Texas in 1990. Since then they have spread to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida and now Georgia. Entomologists and beekeepers have been expecting the arrival of these bees in Georgia for several years. There has been an established breeding population in Florida since 2005.
Because Africanized honeybees look almost identical to European honeybees, the bees from the Dougherty County incident had to be tested to accurately ascertain they were the Africanized strain. The Georgia Department of Agriculture sent samples of the bees to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which has the capability to do FABIS (fast African bee identification system) testing and the U.S. Department of Agriculture identification test (the complete morphometrics test) to confirm the bees' identity.
Africanized honeybees are the result of an experiment that went awry in Brazil in the 1950s. Researchers were trying to create a honeybee better suited to tropic conditions. A few of the African bees escaped and began hybridizing with European honeybees. The hybrid "Africanized" honeybees (so named because they get their extremely defensive nature from the African honeybee) began colonizing South America and Central America, then Mexico and the U.S.
"Georgia beekeepers are our first and best line of defense against these invaders. They are the ones who will be able to monitor and detect any changes in bee activity," said Commissioner Irvin. "The Georgia Department of Agriculture is going to continue its trapping and monitoring of bee swarms to try to find where any Africanized honeybees are," said Commissioner Irvin.
"We also want to educate people about what to do in case they encounter a colony of Africanized honeybees. Georgians can visit our website at http://agr.georgia.gov/portal/site/AGR/ for more information. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has a publication on Africanized honeybees that is available online http://pubsadmin.caes.uga.edu/files/pdf/B%201290_2.PDF or at local Extension offices."