Farm managers and workers got some safety lessons over the weekend at the University of Florida’s Research & Education Center in Immokalee. Experts held sessions on eye safety, working around lightning and avoiding heat stroke at the 16th annual Southwest Florida Farm Safety Day. U-F Entomologist Phil Stansly spoke about recognizing and avoiding highly-aggressive Africanized Honey Bees.
He says a lot of people think if they’ve been stung, it must have been an Africanized bee…
“Of course that’s not really true because European bees can sting as well but Africanized bees are considerably more aggressive and they have other character traits that distinguish them. However just looking at them – other than a slightly smaller size – it’s pretty much impossible to tell the difference for sure.”
Stansly says if you see bees swarming, it’s best to assume they are the Africanized variety, because they make up a large percentage of wild bees in Florida. Although all bees are protective of their hives, Africanized bees are much more likely to attack, and are much more persistent if they do.
While they haven’t taken over yet…scientists say a large proportion of wild bees in the Sunshine State are the aggressive, Africanized variety. All Honey Bees are protective of their hives, and will swarm and attack if threatened. But the European Honey Bee – the kind kept in boxes and harvested for their honey – is the farmer’s choice.
University of Florida Entomologist Phil Stansly says European Bees are fairly docile, and are good pollinators...and he says they tend to save up a whole lot of energy over the winter…
“Selection has created a bee that tends to store up a lot of honey. In Africa unfortunately the bees were never domesticated and folks just went out and raided beehives. And so the best thing for the bees to do is just attack anything that moves towards them…and that relationship has created a more aggressive bee.”
Stansly spoke over the weekend to farm managers and workers at U-F’s Immokalee Education center about identifying and dealing with Africanized Honey Bees. He says it’s best to assume any swarm of wild bees is the aggressive kind, just to be safe…but other than their behavior, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference just by looking at them.
Monday, 05 June 2006 01:00