Killer Bee Migration Due to Dry Weather
Discovery Earth Alert, May 2, 2000
Africanized honeybees are migrating to Arizona cities from hot, dry desert regions where the plant life that supplies their pollen and nectar has dried up. The killer bees are moving into the backyards of urban areas to find new sources of food. Dr. Dave Langston, an expert on the bees and superintendent of the Maricopa Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, said, "In periods of dry weather, these bees will pack up and move on." He continued, "They're going to where the water and flowers are. We have more bees looking for places to live. That increases bee-human interaction." Dry weather conditions cause the bees to become more defensive, with fewer bees able to forage and more bees remaining in the hive to protect their scanty reserves of honey. Tom Martin, the owner of a company specializing in bee removal in Tucson and Phoenix said, "A colony of Africanized honeybees will employ more guard bees to fend off would-be intruders."
The bees, which first arrived in Arizona in 1993, typically attack more frequently in July and October when they are relocating to new hives. The Africanized variety of bee will create new hives as often as every six weeks, while domestic bees change only about once a year. Experts have reported that drought-like conditions in the state are causing the problem to worsen, and the Africanized bees are beginning to outnumber the docile European honeybee. Four people have been killed in stinging attacks since the bees first arrived and experts fear that number could rise drastically with the increase of both the human and the bee populations. Although the sting of the Africanized bee is not more venomous, the insects will attack intruders in swarms of tens of thousands. They remain agitated for as long as eight hours following an attack and will chase their victims for long distances. A hive can be set off by someone using power equipment such as a lawn mower within 100 feet or by any movement within 50 feet.