Honey Bees are highly beneficial to Florida's Agriculture.
They pollinate over 280 commodities on a commercial scale for Florida's farmers.
Honey Bees are responsible for approximately1/3rd of the world's food production. Through their pollinationefforts, Honey Bees truly do feed mankind. Managed Honey Bees are such an integral part of Florida's ecosystem it is hard to imagine that they are not native toNorth America.
Originally brought over in the 1500's, the domesticated European Bee became a silent partner in thenative pollination process. Today, many of the wildlife across the state depend upon fruits, nuts and berries whose flowersare pollinated by these gentle domesticated Honey Bees.
Unfortunately, another strain of Honey Bee has invaded North America. Easily agitated, these unmanaged swarms threaten not only the existence of the domesticated Honey Bee, they are putting in jeopardy our very food supply.
The Africanized Honey Bee is here and it is not going away.
The Africanized honey Bee has descended from tropical African Bees that were introduced to South America in 1956.These African Bees mated with the European Honey Bee to create the hybridized or 'Africanized' Honey Bee. These Beeshave migrated since their introduction reaching the lower United States in 1990.
Africanized Honey Bees are the same species of the European Honey Bee that we have always known. The difference isthat they are much more aggressive when defending their colony. To manage the growth of Africanized Bee populations,there are a number of sites throughout the state that are being monitored closely including the Port of Tampa.
Central West Florida is on the front lines for monitoring Bee activity.
Apiary inspectors from the Florida Department ofAgriculture and Consumer Services monitor over 500 Bee traps around the state. Each trap is a survey tool to collect data.Because they are so visually similar, Africanized Bees should be identified in a laboratory setting.
Feral Bees choose nesting sites that will provide their colony with protection. In naturalsettings, hollow trees and branches can provide a secure location. In urban areas, though, Beesoften find places where people may accidentally disturb them. Eliminating these potential nesting sites can greatly reduce the chance of stinging incidents.
Residents can look for clues showing feral Africanized Bee infestations, like observing the flight paths of Bees to and from a specific area, or hearing the steady hum of an established colony. If they come across a colony, residents should never attempt to exterminate it on their own. They should stay away and call a certified and licensed pest control operator.
A lot of people think they can take care of stinging insects themselves.
The problem with taking care of it yourself is that there are several hundred guards waiting to come out. So if you go and you spray the exterior of a colony, you're going to kill a few Bees, maybe 50 Bees. But once those Bees die, you're going to have several hundred come out of the colony and attack you.
Like most animals, Africanized Bees react defensively only when their home is threatened.
If pursued, the best thing to do is run away as quickly as possible, covering your head and neck. Africanized Honey Bees will fiercely protect an area around their nest and will chase a perceived threat as far as 300 yards - the length of three football fields. They can sense vibrations from machines and equipment like lawn mowers, weed eaters, sirens, and ATVs and will respond quickly to these disturbances.
Initially they visually hone in on the victim then target its exhalation of carbon dioxide, attacking the mouth, nose, eye and ears of the victim. Though pulling your shirt over your head may make your torso vulnerable to stings, it protects your head and neck, which are more sensitive. Take shelter in an enclosed area such as a car, truck or building as quickly as possible and stay inside. A common mistake people make is that when they realize that a few Bees have followed them inside, they panic and run back outside where as many as 50 to 60,000 Bees are waiting for them.
Do not try to hide in water.
Africanized Bees will wait for you longer than you can hold your breath. If an attack has occurred, call for help immediately. Properly trained First responders, like firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMTs, will deal with the situation.