Africanized Bees Not Yet Killing U.S. Honey Production

bee flower photo

Image credit: _PaulS_/Flickr

These days, bees and beekeepers are facing lots of problems. Dealing with takeovers from Africanized bees, however, doesn't appear to be one of them.

A recent survey found that, since their introduction in 1990, Africanized, or "killer," bees have not had a significant impact on the honey industry.After the bees were introduced in Brazil in 1956, it took only a few years before they had spread across the continent. Along the way, they bullied honeybees from their hives, devastating the industry there.

Though Africanized bees have been in the United States for 20 years and have spread throughout 10 states, a University of Florida researcher has found, they have not disrupted the normal process of making honey. Charles Moss, who led the study, explains:

This helps to show that the primary concerns with Africanized honey bees are liability and safety, which are everyone's concern and aren't strictly attached to beekeepers...beekeepers already have a much more pressing economic concern from Colony Collapse Disorder.

Beekeepers have managed to avoid killer bee invasions by changing management strategies when the invasive species in spotted in their area. Though they have proven effective, these practices, the report says, can be costly for beekeepers.

A greater threat than killer bees, Jerry Hayes, head of apiary inspection at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, explained, are overzealous zoning laws that pressure beekeepers. He said:

Honey is a byproduct of pollination, which is the most important aspect of managed honey bees...iff beekeepers are zoned, ordinanced and restricted out of areas because of fear—then it is people putting the strain on the keepers and their ability to produce, not the Africanized bees.

Instead of pushing beekeepers to the margins, we should embrace them, inviting them into our towns and cities, and helping preserve struggling bee populations by planting gardens to encourage bees to stick around.

Read more about bees:
Save the Bees! Grow Garden Plants Honey Bees Love
Where Did the Bees Go?
Photo Essay: Bees and Beekeepers In Crisis
Using Bees to Battle Crows in Japan
Blogger Writes About Bee Colony Collapse Disorder in his Backyard

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