Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 07:52:00 GMT
From: ANDY NACHBAUR
Subject: AHB in newspaper
In today’s Indianapolis Star, in the light news section, is a photo of a beekeeper in Arizona apparently keeping killer bees. In the photo, 2 men are wearing protective suits, bee veils, and leather gloves. One is opening up the top of a hive, and a moderate number of bees are crawling and flying around. The caption reads, “Beekeeper Reed Booth of Bisbee, Ariz., opens a hive of Africanized “killer” bees at his Old Bisbee apiary. He and partner Josh Krebs sell the killer bees’ honey and also provide bee-removal service. Up to 85 percent of southeastern Arizona’s bees may be the Africanized variety, considered much fiercer than normal honeybees.”
I didn’t realize it was allowed to keep AHB. Can this be true?
Afro Bee’s, sometimes called “killer bee’s” have been around in the wilds’ of the west for many years, even before found in Brazil. None of them have killed anyone or caused a problem, maybe because there were so few, and they were not ID’ed to the public as being Afro.
I kept bee’s for five seasons on the high Sonoran desert, the bees were bad tempered. They fit all the gory descriptions of the dreaded “killer” bees. The 2nd season I brought in 500 queens from a California breeder I knew had gentle stock. By the end of that season they were no different from the local bees, maybe yellower in color. The next year I brought in a semi load, (500+) hives right out of the almonds that I had worked that season and the year before without a veil. Within days they fit the mold of “killer” bees.” The apiaries had been in place for 40 years and always had been very productive, well kept, and aggressive. A local use queen rearing operation was in place and used breeders from the best in the west as well as their own. A close neighbor set up a commercial breeding station within a mile or two and shipped thousands of queens out of the area for several years without complaint.
Since the time I left the boarder lands of Arizona, the swarms within a mile or two of the apiaries I am talking about were determined to be Afro bees. The beekeepers were told it would cost them as much as $35.00 per hive to test the rest to see if they were Afro. They did what any reasonable person who could would do… went to the legislature and had “all” the bee laws repealed. There are no bee inspectors in Arizona as far as I know, and any bee problems are in the state entomologists realm and can only be dealt with by a licence pest control person.
California has no laws outlawing “Afro” bees, we did just have a law passed allowing for the training of persons who would be licensed to control them. This early on training is open to beekeepers and is given to them for “attending classes” at beekeeping meeting. Thats the same way it works for pesticide permits, its pure bureaucratic bull pucka, (in my humble experience), just another way of spending taxes and collecting ever growing fees.
There is one big reason why “Afro” or “killer” bees are causing legislators to consider getting out “post haste” of the bee inspection business. If a hive or yard, or bees that you inspected and represent by your personal deceleration as a representative of any agency, injures of heaven forbid kills someone within x number of days, who is responsible if you said they were not African “killer” bees? If you don’t know the answer to this question it is only because it has not been litigated yet, but I will give you a hint based on case law here in California… it will be the one with the deep pockets that will have the resources to avoid or delay paying, and that is not me, but my insurance company will pay the first time, along with the agency who performed any inspection. This idea of “we did not know the gun was loaded” will not save anyone just because he is doing what he was told to. Agency’s of the government have hyped the “killer” bees for so long and continues to this day, that any defence by them in court, less then we “nuc’ed them and they still stung the deceased”, would fall on the deaf ears of justice.
Another reason for no laws on Afro Bees, that has a lot to do with the above. They are feral or wild, and much law gives responsibility to the state for all feral things, including much case law. Even honeybees confined to your hive can become feral once they leave your hive and much case law states that if you don’t demonstrate ownership by followin them they become the property of anyone who hives them. Arizona has considered laws that would allow only licence pest control people to hive any swarm. Don’t know if they got very far with this one, but expect that if the Tex-Mex (Afro) bees start on a serial murder spree we will see some new laws.
It is interesting to note that the only feral hive of bees found in California and maybe the only one in all the America’s that passed every known test as being 100% African has lived in a tree on a golf course adjacent to a ridings path for many years without a problem or regards for any regulation. This and all other feral Afro type hives found in California have not demonstrated any aggressive abnormal behaviour to this date as far as I know or can find out.
As far a beekeepers working “killer” bees in Arizona, I can testify that if all you knew about killer bees is the descriptions reported in the literature then all the bees I have seen in the boarder lands of Arizona qualify, and I have been told years ago this zone of aggressive bees extends into New Mexico by Jaycox whom I trust. As for these yahoos’ having Tex-Mex bees, I don’t know, my guess they are capitalizing on the hype. I do know that ever since the Mexican bees’ united with the Texas bees’, that thousands of hives from some of the same areas’ in Texas have been moved to California for spring almond pollination and have not been a problem, to date.