Living with Killer Bees Among Us By Misty Cryer Finding a swarm of bees on your property is likely to cause some panic.It’s not uncommon for the term,“killer bees,” to come to mind, especially if you were around when it was first determined that Africanized honeybees were in the area. Christina Mann, a local bee enthusiast, reported that she recently had three swarm calls within a one and half mile radius of Old Cavern Highway and Farris Street. In her words, “these were not nice bees”. It is important for the community to be educated about what to do if you encounter a bees warm, along with the threats and benefits honey bees bring.When honeybees are swarming, generally they are looking for a new home. The experts agree that bees are less aggressive during this time because they do not have a hive to protect, but they can get defensive if they are disturbed. Efrain Nieto’s(Owner and operator of Nieto’s Bee Farm)first line of advice is not to be scared if you encounter a swarm, “Don’t swing at them. If you are aggressive to them, they’ll be aggressive to you.” If the swarm attacks, he suggests pulling your shirt up to protect your face and neck and to “get away from them”, running to a shelter or vehicle and shutting the doors can minimize the number of stings.Retired Eddy County Extension Agent Woods Houghton agrees with the concept of getting away from them, “Defending yourself makes them madder.” He was around back when Africanized bees, commonly known as killer bees,were expected. He remembers his first call that came from a man south of town telling him that he had aggressive bees on his property in the late nineties. At that time, it was customary practice to suit up and eliminate the aggressive bees using soapy water. Since then, he says there has been a death and a few attacks by aggressive bees in the community. He asserts that now, Africanized bees are likely to bein every colony. When asked if he supported having beekeepers remove swarms, Houghton said, “If they are accessible, they have the equipment, and they will take the bees.” Iván Tellez, the new Agriculture Extension Agent for Eddy County,also suggested using beekeepers to remove bees. During his first week with Eddy County Extension Service, he reached out to get estimates to develop a resource list to provide to community members who reach out for help. He has an appreciation of the benefits of honeybees, “Aside from providing delicious honey, honeybees provide very important pollination services. As the bees travel from flower to flower to collect nectar, they also transfer pollen from each of the flowers they visit. This fertilizes the flowers, which eventually become some sort of fruit. While this pollination process can be initiated by wind or other environmental factors, some crops need pollinators like honeybees.” Nieto shares some insight on the difference between swarms and established colonies along with the processes of removing the bees.“It’s a lot easier to get a swarm than an established colony.” He explains that established colonies are often in a wall, under a shed, in a camper, or in a tree. This can include several different methods such as using a smoker to calm the bees, working with a contractor to do cutouts, removing honeycomb, and follow up to prevent re-establishment or attraction of pests, such as rodents. Pictures and videos can be see non Nieto’s Bee Farm page on Facebook.
As an “ethical beeker,” Christina plans to attempt to keep the bees she collected alive through the winter and to manage the hives by replacing the Queens with European Queens, while destroying the drone cells. She explained that once this is done, the behavior of the hive changes dramatically. To learn more, review this resource provided by Iván Tellez, Agriculture Extension Agent for Eddy County. Honey Bees in New Mexico: https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_l/L110.pdfRecommended credit: Compliments of Nieto Bee Farm –this just explains what is what, or it can be used