Lakeport area residents warned of aggressive bees

LAKEPORT — The Glades County Emergency Management Office has issued a warning for the Lakeport area about aggressive bees.

“A very aggressive beehive was eradicated on Harper Lane in Lakeport. This makes the second hive to be eradicated in the Lakeport area. Please be aware of your surroundings and do not disturb the hive,” states the notice issued by Glades County Emergency Management on social media July 17.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Scott Bauer, USDA
This photo of an Africanized honey bee queen is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture photo gallery.

According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Africanized honey bees (AHB) have made their way into the state of Florida. AHBs breed and compete with the European strains of honey bees that normally inhabit the state.

According to the IFAS website, the bees’ behavior is actually defensive: “They react to human invasion of their environment and defend themselves when necessary. Attacks occur when people get too close to a nesting colony of AHBs. The AHBs do not sit around and plot attacks on humans.”

According to IFAS, potential sites for bee infestation include abandoned vehicles, empty containers, places with holes, lumber piles, water meters, utility infrastructures, old tires, trees, outbuildings, sheds, chimneys and crawl spaces under buildings.

IFAS offers the following tips to avoid AHBs:
• In order to ‘bee-proof’ a building, remove all potential nesting sites.
• From March to July (swarming season), inspect your property weekly for unusual bee activity.
• Seal all gaps larger than 1/8-inch in walls and around chimneys and plumbing.
• Install screens made of 1/8-inch hardware cloth over other openings, such as rainspouts, vents, cavities of trees and fence posts, water meters, utility boxes, etc.

If you do find unwanted bees on your property, IFAS advises that you contact your county Extension agent, a registered beekeeper or a certified pest control operator. Africanized honey bees can interbreed with European bees, which means that all wild colonies of bees are at risk of being European/African crosses.

If you come into contact with AHBs, IFAS offers the following tips:
• Do not stay in one place and swat the bees as this will cause the bees to sting. Remember, AHBs are trying to defend their nest. When a stinging event happens, you are too close to the nest, and you need to leave the area immediately. Cover your nose and mouth with your shirt as you run. This restricts bees’ access to your airways.
• When seeking shelter, do not hide in thick underbrush or water as it may take the bees 30 minutes or longer to leave an area. Look for enclosed locations, such as a building or vehicle. Some bees will probably enter the shelter with you, but most will remain outside.
• If you see a swarm around a person, do not go to the victim and try to help. It is better to stand at a safe distance and yell to the person to leave the area as quickly as possible.
• If a defensive swarm is encountered, contact emergency personnel or pest control operators, who are trained to deal with AHBs.

If you are stung by a bee, stingers should be scraped (not plucked) out with a blunt object, such as a fingernail or credit card. Doing this as soon as possible will stop the release of venom. Wash the stung area with soap and water and apply ice to stop the swelling. Swelling is normal and does not mean the victim is having an allergic reaction.

Some people are allergic to bee stings. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing and dizziness. If an allergic reaction occurs, seek medical help or call emergency personnel.

Florida law allows any registered beekeeper to remove swarms and colonies. A homeowner can locate a registered beekeeper themselves or can access The Florida Department of Agriculture, Consumer Services Bee Removal list — entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/afbee/resources/homeowners.shtml

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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