A farmer in Texas a few weeks ago was helping a neighbor and friend build a brush pile and unknowingly disturbed a huge hive of Africanized European Honey Bees that had built their home in a chicken coop! The farmer managed to get out of his tractor and run to a nearby house where the owner tried to help, only to end up on the receiving end of stings herself and is now in serious condition in the hospital. It is estimated that Larry Goodwin, the farmer, was stung 40,000 times! Family said there was almost no part of his body without a sting. After the paramedics worked for 40 minutes to save his life, he was pronounced dead. To put this into a realistic perspective, it takes about 10 stings per human pound to cause death, meaning if the farmer weighed 200 pounds, it would take 2000 stings to possibly end his life.
The Africanized bees first arrived in Texas in 1990 from South and Central America. Brazil had brought the African bees in to increase their honey production in the 1950’s. By the end of the 1950’s, 26 swarms accidently escaped from quarantine and started their journey to North America, arriving in Texas by 1990! Texas Agri-life Extension Service says according to studies in 1994 that 15% of the hives were Africanized but by 1997 that number had increased to 90%! This means in less than 10 years these killers have dominated and taken over the honey bee population. Now what we have are hybrids.
Local bee removal services say that the calls for removal have increased significantly this year. The concern is that with a normal honey bee hive, when a threat is felt will send about 10% of the bees to handle the problem but the Africanized hives are much more aggressive and will send the entire hive out in a frenzy that will chase that threat for up to an entire mile! Sounds like they are the bullies of the bee world! These hives are not limited to rural areas, they are being found within the cities as well. This could be a real danger to children who are not taught to stay away. We all know how curious children can be; in this case it could prove to be fatal. Take time to listen and look at your surroundings, especially this time of the year, and if a hive is found close to your home or business, call a professional for help.