BEE REMOVAL - THE NEW REALITY

The practice of bee removal in Florida is changing quickly. During the past few years African bees have become well established in South Florida and much of West Central Florida. Some colonies have even been established in North Florida. As a result the focus of bee removal over much of Florida has shifted dramatically toward public safety.

This change is due to the difference in behavior between Africanized bees and the European honey bees managed by beekeepers. African bees, also known as “killer” bees, are extremely protective of their nests and easily provoked. Although they don’t deserve the “killer” title, they do deserve a heap of respect and a wide berth to prevent any nasty surprises.

Even though a nearby bee colony is currently calm, it simply isn’t true that no danger exists. Research says that an average queen bee lives between 6 months and one year. When a new queen is born to replace the old queen, she leaves the nest temporarily to mate with drones from nearby colonies. If African bee colonies are nearby, and if she mates with one, the existing colony that was calm 6 months ago could become Africanized very quickly.

Africanized bees have been established for many years in the Southwestern states. Stats show that ½ of all African bee attacks occur in situations where the victim was aware of the bee colony but did nothing about it. If those nests had been removed when they were discovered, the attack would not have occurred.

In the past, bee removal, that is eliminating a bee colony, was discouraged because bees are an endangered species. We rely heavily on bees to pollinate our food crops. Instead, we encouraged beekeepers to save the nest and add it to their managed hives. The invasion of African bees, and the rise of various bee diseases however, have reduced the value and increased the risk of wild bees. Fewer and fewer beekeepers are willing to accept the risks.

Where Africanized bees have become established, there may be 100-200 colonies per square mile. Removing one wild bee nest does not significantly reduce the overall population of bees. Beekeepers Phoenix are NOT attempting to destroy all wild nests, or even all Africanized bees. They do recommend however, that any bees found nesting near people be removed immediately, and that all bee removal be performed by a state certified Pest Control Operator.

A trained and certified Pest Control Operator should 1) recognize whether the bees on your property are a swarm or a colony and be able to explain the difference to you 2) discuss the removal procedure with you before beginning the bee removal 3) wear a veil, sting suit and gloves to perform the bee removal, 4) remove all dead bees and all combs associated with the colony, 5) discuss bee-proofing.