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Africanized honey bees found in Alabama

Africanized honey bees found in Alabama

Africanized honey bees found in Alabama

State agriculture officials say Africanized honey bees have been found in two Alabama counties, but action is being taken to prevent them from spreading.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has confirmed the presence of the bees in Jackson and St. Clair counties. Both discoveries occurred in wild swarms collected by local beekeepers.

The Africanized Honeybees (AFB) have been euthanized to protect Alabama’s honeybees.

The department says it is taking swift action to limit the risks associated with these invasive bees. Traps are placed within a five mile radius of the detection locations to capture and identify any further presence of AHB. It says this will assess the extent of AHB infiltration and prevent future attacks.

The department also says it is reaching out to all beekeepers in the vicinity of the positive findings. Beekeepers are advised on the identification and management of AHB and are encouraged to report suspicious bee activity. Samples will be collected.

“Our goal is to protect both our residents and the health of our local bee populations,” Agriculture and Industry Commissioner Rick Pate said in a statement. “We are working hard to monitor the situation and take the necessary measures to prevent the spread of these aggressive bees.”

Africanized honey bees differ from European honey bees (EHB) in behavior, not appearance. Neither species of honey bee will attack people or animals indiscriminately. Stinging is a defensive behavior used by the colony to protect their brood (young bees) and food supply.

Differences in AHB and EHB are:

AHB is more defensive than EHB.
AHB is more easily disturbed and responds in greater numbers than EHB.
AHB can swarm as often as once every six weeks, while EHB generally only swarm once a year.
AHB settles in any available cavity or in the open air. Nest locations include water meter boxes, metal utility poles, cement blocks, junk posts, and eaves of houses. Other potential breeding grounds include fallen flower pots, old tires, mobile home skirts and abandoned structures. Holes in the ground and tree branches, mailboxes and even an empty soft drink could be considered ‘home’ for the AHB.
EHB nests in larger cavities above the ground and sometimes in the open air. EHB does not nest in holes in the ground. Nest sites include a beekeeper’s hive, hollow trees, cavities in walls, and occasionally on a tree branch.
AHB will pursue a threat for more than a mile, while EHB will pursue a threat for only a few hundred yards.

The public is urged to remain vigilant and report any unusually aggressive bee behavior to the ADAI. Africanized honey bees can be very defensive and pose a risk to humans and animals. It is important not to provoke swarms and to seek professional help in removing the bees.

If you think you have found a colony of Africanized honey bees, contact the ADAI’s State Apiary Unit at (334) 240-7228 or (334) 240-7172. For more information about honeybees, please visit: CLICK HERE