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LDAF Press Release Current
 
Press Release
 

TitleAfricanized Honeybees Found Near Louisiana Border in East Texas
Release Date11/9/2001
 
Texas agriculture officials are reporting that Africanized honeybees have moved closer to the Louisiana border with the recent discovery of Africanized bee colonies in two northeast Texas counties.

“A researcher discovered the bees in Gregg and Harrison counties in northeast Texas,” Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom says. “The location is about 35 to 40 miles west of Caddo Parish.”

The bees were found in traps set by a bee researcher working near Longview and Marshall, Texas. Out of six feral, or wild, honeybee colonies collected, three were confirmed Africanized honeybees by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Both counties were quarantined and made part of the Texas Africanized Honey Bee Zone.

“Our LDAF apiary inspectors have been monitoring the Louisiana/Texas border with traps from the Gulf of Mexico to north of Shreveport for several years so that we will know when we have Africanized honeybees here,” Odom explains. “It’s no longer a situation of  ‘if we get them’, now it’s ‘when we get them,’ and it’s only a matter of time before Africanized honeybees arrive here.”

When Africanized honeybees are detected in Louisiana, the department will alert the public and the state’s beekeepers immediately.

Although no Africanized bees have been in the state from natural movement, Jimmy Dunkley, state apiarist for LDAF, says the USDA has intercepted several Africanized bee colonies entering New Orleans on ships.

Once the boats were docked, inspectors destroyed the bees eliminating the possibility for their spread to local European honeybee colonies, which is a major concern for beekeepers in Louisiana.

“Africanized honeybees are a big threat to the public perception of beekeepers, many of whom have colonies of European honeybees in their own backyards. The department is constantly working with them so that when the Africanized bees arrive in our state, beekeepers can take measures to assure their neighbors that their hives are safe,” Dunkley remarks.

He points out that Africanized honeybees are smaller, more aggressive bees than the European honeybees commonly raised for honey production. It is their aggressive nature that scares many outdoor enthusiasts.

“Because Africanized bees have been labeled ‘killer bees’ for years, there’s an idea around that they are bigger than European honeybees,” Odom adds. “The truth is, they’re actually smaller but a lot more fierce.”

The venom in Africanized bees is the same as that in European bees, but Africanized bees will sting in greater masses leading to a toxic reaction in some cases. Dunkley recommends seeking cover immediately to reduce the number of stings in a confrontation with Africanized bees.

Odom says that once an Africanized honeybee colony is discovered in Louisiana, the department will move from a trap-monitoring program to a hive certification program for beekeepers that sell queens and packaged bees.

“In order for our beekeepers to continue to sell their queens and packages, they will have to show proof that their colonies are free of Africanized honeybees. The department’s duty will be inspecting those operations and certifying the colonies that don’t contain any Africanized honeybees,” Odom notes.

To report an unprovoked, mass stinging, please call LDAF at 225-952-8100.

     
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