The African honeybees finally made it to Louisiana. Traps supplied by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) were set and a colony was collected. We received verification July 27, 2005, and August 26, 2005, that the bees were, in fact, African honeybees. The July catch was in Caddo Parish and the August catch was in Calcasieu Parish. The Caddo Parish catch was made 35 miles northwest of Shreveport in the town of Rodessa, and the August catch was in Lake Charles.
Although USDA has intercepted several Africanized colonies entering New Orleans on ships, these are the first instances of the African honeybees moving into Louisiana on their own through natural migration. Earlier this year, Arkansas confirmed African honeybees about 7 miles north of the Louisiana border and just 2 miles east of the Oklahoma border.
These findings go along with the findings in Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida. We were getting surrounded, and it was just a matter of time before this occurred. These findings will mean that beekeepers in the infested areas will have to be certified to sell their queens and packages. It will also mean that the trap line run by LDAF will have to be moved to determine movement of the African honeybee swarms.
Until now the trap line ran along the Texas/Louisiana border and up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge. Now the western trap line will remain along the border south of Converse in Sabine Parish and will be moved east starting at Converse along highway 174 to Pleasant Hill up Highway 177 to Armistead then up Highway 371 to Minden. In Minden, the traps will follow Highways 159 and 521 to the Arkansas line. The line in south Louisiana will be moved back 40–50 miles east of the find as well, but at this time no distinct line has been set.
African honeybees are a big threat to the public perception of beekeepers because many beekeepers have colonies of European honeybees in their backyards. It must be realized that the beekeeper and his European honeybees are the first line of defense against the invading African honeybees. It will be important, if any beekeeper is willing to remove honeybees from walls or other structures, that this information be made available to the local county agent’s office and to me. I will have it listed on the State Beekeepers Association’s Web site and on the LSU AgCenter Web site. This will make easy to access by people in need of assistance. It will also give the association more visibility and better public relations.
Since the African honeybees have moved into North America, most of the fatalities associated with them have been caused by individuals trying to remove or exterminate colonies when they had no idea how to work with honeybees.
“Killer bee” is a term that has been erroneously applied to the African honeybees. Many people think that the African honeybees are larger than the European honeybees but, in reality, the African honeybees are slightly smaller. They are however, more aggressive than the European honeybees. When colonies of European honeybees are disturbed, 50 to 100 honeybees will defend the colony and chase you approximately 100 yards. When African honeybees are disturbed, 300 to 400 honeybees will defend the colony and chase you 300 yards or more.
The venom from African or European honeybees is the same in type and amount injected when they sting. The difference is the number of stings, which increases the amount of venom that is received by the individual. Individuals who are allergic to insect bites or stings will get the same reaction from any sting. Non-allergic individuals become affected when they receive a high number of stings because the high dosage of venom overcomes the system.
Reaction to stings depends on an individual’s physiology, which can be affected by medicine taken, gain or loss of weight, illness, surgery and age factors. It will be important that any stinging situation be reported so an evaluation can be made of the incident. Remind the public to report all stinging incidents to the county agent’s office to verify what type of wasp or bee was involved. Where honeybees are involved, the county agent will report it to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for evaluation.
Remember it is important to help with honeybee situations when possible. It is one means of preventing the mass killing of colonies. The public must understand that the elimination of colonies will open the door for any potential African colonies. The random removal of honeybees can also affect the pollination of crops and food sources for birds and wildlife. Pollination is a valuable service rendered by the honeybees and is valued at more than $400,000,000 annually in Louisiana.
Beekeepers should take any opportunity to speak to schools or organizations on the value of honeybees or set up exhibits at fairs and festivals to present the positive side of honeybees. Lack of public information is the most dangerous ingredient to the beekeepers' livelihoods.
Beekeepers will have to be the best of managers now. Keep your hives healthy and strong. Marking your queens in some form will be an excellent way to keep your colonies free of any African honeybee takeover. Colonies that have aggressive behavior should have the queen changed or the colony destroyed. Medicate your colonies to protect them from disease, and use the strips or other means to protect against small hive beetles, wax moths and mites. Stressed hives become susceptible to many problems; the stronger they are kept and the better protected they are, the more productive they can be.
When you are outdoors or in the woods, carry and use an aerosol containing a high concentration of deet to protect from stinging situations. When a nest or colony is disturbed, spray the deet in the air around and over you to help disrupt the bees and stop their aggression. An alternative to the spray is to run into some sort of cover or through tall grasses, weeds or small trees. The bees will not know the difference between you and the moving grass or trees.
When using a four-wheeler, if you disturb a colony and you cannot outrun the bees while on the vehicle, put it in neutral, get off and run from the bees. The bees will usually remain with the vehicle, allowing you to escape.
Registration will be more important now so that the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will know where hives are located and individuals can be notified of situations in their area. This is important now with the coming of the African honeybees and the new standards that will be implemented as the Africans migrate across the state.
All of these ideas will help to protect European colonies and to prevent or hinder the movement and impact of African honeybees to Louisiana. Remember, good management is the main resource for preventing problems from getting started.
LDAF District Offices: Report all stinging incidents that involve honeybees to the office nearest the location:
|Alexandria||Bryan Bridges||402-A Rainbow Drive|
Pineville, LA 71360
|Baton Rouge||Allen Fabre||P.O. Box 3596|
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
|Crowley||Craig Callahan||110 S. Western Ave.|
Crowley, LA 70526
|Monroe||Kevin Wofford||754 Hwy. 80 East|
Monroe, LA 71203
|New Orleans||Milton Schleismann||325 Loyola Avenue|
New Orleans, LA 70112
|Opelousas||Richard Arceneaux||Yambilee Bldg., Hwy. 190-W|
1939 W. Landry
Opelousas, LA 70570
|Shreveport||Louis Leonards||740 Covington Road|
Haughton, LA 71037
Anyone who is interested in collecting swarms, removing honeybees or assisting in handling a honeybee situation, please call your local county agent’s office and also my office to give us your name and phone number. It would also be helpful to know how far you will travel to handle any of these situations; some parishes have few beekeepers.
Your name and number will be listed on the Web sites for both the Louisiana Beekeepers Association (labeekeepers.org) and the LSU AgCenter (www.lsuagcenter.com) for quick and easy reference. Good public relations make things easier for the beekeeper and honeybees as well as help to promote the sale of honey.
The state beekeepers’ meeting will be December 2-3, 2005, at Hotel Acadiana in Lafayette. This is the time to share ideas, experiences and information. Everyone is welcome, whether you have one hive or 5,000. Pass the word along to hobbyists and other potential beekeepers. There is something for everyone from the beginner to the lifetime beekeeper. From experience, I know there will be information from Dr. Reinderer’s group at the USDA lab, the Louisiana Department Agriculture and Forestry, the LSU AgCenter, the State 4-H essay winner and others. Join us for a honey of a good time, information and friendship.
The Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge will hold its annual Field Day Saturday, October 8, 2005. The one-day event will be at the laboratory building and grounds near the intersection of Nicholson Drive (Hwy 30) and Ben Hur Road (1157 Ben Hur Rd.). This is about two miles south of the LSU football Stadium. Gates will open at 9 a.m. Activities are scheduled from 10:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. A $10 registration fee includes refreshments and a catered lunch.
The field day will include activities for both beginner and advanced beekeepers. Bring your bee veil. Beginners will discuss topics such as the annual cycle of a honeybee colony and selling honey. The advanced activities will include pest and disease management, Russian honey bees, the small hive beetle and bee management. Participants will be able to ask research scientists about current research and happenings in the bee industry. The field day also provides an opportunity for beekeepers to share ideas and experiences with fellow beekeepers.
Those planning to attend must register before September 26, 2005, so refreshments and the catered lunch can be arranged. Please mail your registration check (payable to the Louisiana State Beekeepers Assn.) to John Harbo, Honey Bee Lab, 1157 Ben Hur Road, Baton Rouge, LA. 70820; for more information, contact Jose Villa (225-767-9293), John Harbo (225-767-9288), Billy Hummer (318-742-3541), or the Web site for the Louisiana Beekeepers Association: www.labeekeepers.org.
Now that most of us have harvested the early honey and are preparing for the fall collection, we need to remember to set aside three 1-pound queen line jars with some of that honey for the Louisiana State Fair competition. Last year several entries missed the deadline. Let’s not have that happen again. Now is the time to bottle it up and mark down the date, OCTOBER 20, 2005, when the entries are to be judged. The fair opens October 28 and closes November 13. Entries can be brought in before October 20 or by the close of business that day. If you or your agent cannot meet the deadline, I will bring the entries when I go up October 20, 2005. Just call me at (225-578-2180) and set up a pickup or delivery point on or before October 20.
Remember, anyone can enter and there are three categories: LIGHT, AMBER, DARK. Each category entered must have three 1-pound queen line jars. One jar must have an identification registration tag and all three jars must have the ID number written on the top of the lids. Good luck! If you don’t enter, you cannot win. This is an opportunity for each of you to exhibit honey in the competition. Many people will visit the display. Several beekeepers have said that their honey sales increased because the visitors at the fair saw the beekeepers’ names and addresses on the honey tags. I am positive that our local honey is better than any honey bought in the store from other areas, and we give them a better selection in color and taste.
The Air Force will be assisting in the spraying for mosquitoes but only in the Orleans, St. Bernard and Washington parish areas. They will be spraying during the daytime hours and using Dibrom, which is very toxic to honeybees. Where possible, hives should be covered or closed prior to application to help reduce the effects of the spraying on the colonies. In East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and West Feliciana, the regular nighttime spraying will be done as usual. I will keep you posted as things change and new information is available.