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Now browsing: Hometown News > Gardening > Garden Nook

Understanding Africanized honeybees
Rating: 1.6 / 5 (15 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Aug 02 - 08:54

One of the sure signs of the summer season is the sight of honeybees fluttering from flower to flower in search of sweet nectar that is needed for the bees to produce honey.

More often than not, these small creatures normally mind their own business at hand. This scenario is slowly beginning to change.

With the introduction of the Africanized bees, you no longer can assume that the bee you see is going to leave you alone. The problem is that only a bee expert can tell the difference between an ordinary honeybee and one that is Africanized. Killer Bees are slightly smaller than there honeybee counterparts.

Similar to the imported fire ant, Africanized Honey Bees have been brought to our country by "accident." The bees are cousins of bees that were imported to South America in an attempt to breed more efficient honey bees that are better adapted to a tropical climate. This all transpired in 1957. The problems began to mount when they found that the bees were multiplying much faster than expected. Some of these bees "escaped" from their intended area and the migration began.

Killer Bees acquired their name because they tend to be much more aggressive than normal honeybees. They will chase down people or animals for long distances and in much larger numbers than normal bees. You can initiate an attack by simply getting into the bees territory. You do not have to disturb the hive in order to get attacked. This is what makes them so dangerous.

It is now known that the bees have arrived in our area. It is a good idea to simply assume that when you see a honeybee, assume it might be a killer bee and stay clear of its path. These bees can make hives in almost any structure so be aware of large numbers of bees coming and going out of trees, walls or virtually any object that has a hollow area. Normally, a few bees around your flowers doing their normal routine will generally not be a problem. Remember that bees are necessary for pollination of flowers, fruits and vegetables.

In the unlikely event you are under attack from a swarm of bees, run and find shelter as soon as possible. When you are in a safe area away from the bees, determine if you will need medical attention. If you have been stung several times, and have symptoms such as breathing difficulties, seek medical attention immediately.

Local pain and some swelling is a normal occurrence and does not always require medical attention. If you have known allergies to bee stings, seek medical attention no matter what. In addition, if you suspect you have encountered killer bee activity, notify authorities immediately.

One of my favorite plants to plant during the summer months is the Mexican Heather. These plants boast colorful lavender, purple or white flowers. They do well in both summer and winter. They do well in full sun as well as partial shade and will tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees. Even if they freeze to the ground, there is a chance they will grow back. They have excellent heat tolerance but do best with regular watering. They can grow to be three- feet tall but can be easily trimmed to fit your needs. They can be propagated from plant cuttings in the summer and they also can be grown from seed. The most common variety in retail stores is the Allyson, which has purple flowers. I also use Heather in my bedding area. The combination of the three flowers makes a great contrast of color in a flowerbed and you have the advantage of using flowers that tolerate our intense heat. You can also add some Dusty Miller to the mix for a real treat. The silver-white colored leaves can really add the flower mix for a picture perfect garden!

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.

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