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Escape from Killer Bees


There is no need to panic. There are a lot of bee colonies out there, but a person is about 1000 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by bees[1]


Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) originated from African bees brought to Brazil in the 1950s, hybridized in an attempt to produce a bee better suited to tropical climates. [2] They have gradually made their way up from Brazil, officially reaching the USA on October 19, 1990 when a swarm was documented.[3]

Hollywood hype came up with the "killer bee" term, owing to the ferocity of the bees when riled. While Africanized honey bees are very defensive and easily provoked,[4] they are generally not a threat to humans provided they are not riled. Moreover, if you are attacked by Africanized honey bees, you can take the following steps to get away from them and protect yourself and others.

Steps

  1. Be aware of the triggers that encourage Africanized honey bees to attack, so that you can avoid provoking an attack. Some of the things that can encourage attacking by Africanized honey bees include hive disturbance, causing the bees to think that the hive is under threat, and a range of sensory threats such as loud noise, strong odor or artificial fragrance, shiny objects (including jewelry) and dark clothes.[5] If you do spot a hive in your yard, camping ground, or when out for a walk, take care and consider the following precautions:
    • Avoid making loud noise when you discover a hive. This includes not shouting, avoiding the use of machinery near the hive (such as chainsaws and lawnmowers), and keeping barking dogs away.
    • Don't poke a hive. Never disturb a hive, no matter how curious or foolhardy you're feeling. It's the bees' home and they'll do what they need to defend it. Leave it well alone and call for professional hive removal help.
    • Don't wear strong perfume, shiny jewelry or dark clothing when in an area known for having Africanized bees.
  2. If bees start attacking, don't freeze. Run away quickly. Do not stop to help other people unless they are small children or they are disabled. Call out to encourage everyone in the vicinity to run to shelter. Run in a straight line - most healthy people are capable of outrunning Africanized bees as they are slow fliers.[6]
    • If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area probably have been trained to handle bee attacks.
  3. Protect your face as you run. Use your shirt pulled over your face or your arms but do not let this slow your running. Protect your eyes and sensitive head areas. If you are holding an infant then keep their face tucked directly into your body so that the bees cannot get at their face.
    • Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell of bananas that will attract more bees.
  4. Run into the wind. This makes it harder for the bees to keep pace with you.[7]
  5. Avoid getting into water. Killer bees will wait until you come up for air.[8]
  6. Run to a building shelter. Do not stop running until you reach shelter. While some bees will follow you indoors, you should be able to shut most bees outside. Those that have followed you in will be disoriented by the lights in a well-lit room and will fly to the windows.
  7. Use any cover on hand if you cannot find shelter. Use blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, get into a tent or a bivouac, anything that can cover you up and provide shelter. Running through bushes or high weeds might also help provide some cover. If your car is close, it can serve as suitable shelter.
  8. File:Beekeeper Valeria 6084.jpg
    Call in the professionals
    Take stock once inside shelter or when you have outrun the bees. Rest a moment to catch your breath, check who else has made it back with you, and attend to injuries and allergic reactions:
    • Remove all the stingers. When a honey bee stings, it leaves the stinger in your skin. While this kills the honey bee by tearing apart its abdomen, the venom continues to enter into the wound for a short time.
    • Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.
    • If you have been stung more than 15 times, or you're feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 7-10 stings per pound of body weight; this means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings.[9] A person allergic to bee stings, however, is at great risk of anaphylactic shock from even a single sting, so seek immediate medical advice.
    • Call the police. Tell them what has happened so that they can arrange for professional beekeepers to come and contain the swarm.

Video

Template:Video:Escape from Killer Bees

Tips

  • Bees "swarm" most often in the spring and fall. This is because the colony becomes too crowded in its current hive and half of them will leave to establish a new hive. They may move in large masses—called swarms—until they find a suitable spot. Once the colony is built and the bees begin raising their young, they will protect their hive by stinging.
  • Keep your house area bee-free. Avoid colonies by filling in holes or cracks in exterior walls, filling in tree cavities, and putting screens on the tops of rainspouts and over water meter boxes in the ground. Cover the chimney when not in use. See How to Get Rid of Killer Bees for more advice.
  • If you have a hive in your yard, fence it off temporarily so that your pets and any other animals cannot gain access to the hive and accidentally disturb it.
  • Common names: Africanized honeybee, African honey bee, killer bee.

Warnings

  • While any colony of bees will defend its hive, Africanized bees do so with gusto. These bees can kill, and they present a danger even to those who are not allergic to bee stings. In several isolated instances, people and animals have been stung to death. Regular honeybees will chase you about fifty yards (45.7 meters). Africanized honeybees may pursue you three times that distance.
  • Most often, death from stings occurs when people are not able to get away from the bees quickly. Animal losses have occurred for the same reasons—pets and livestock were tied up or penned when they encountered the bees and could not escape.
  • Do not bother bee colonies: if you see that bees are building—or have already built—a colony around your home, do not disturb them or attempt to remove them yourself. Call a pest control center to find out who can remove the bees quickly. While waiting for them, stay well away from the bee hive or swarm; if you can't leave your house, call the police for assistance.

Sources and Citations

  1. Stingshield.com, Archive:2000 AHB News Reported in the Print Media, http://www.stingshield.com/2000news.htm
  2. USDA, Africanized Honey Bee, http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/afrhonbee.shtml
  3. Nationalatlas.gov, What's Buzzing with Africanized Honey Bees?, http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/biology/a_bees.html
  4. Wikipedia, Africanized bees, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_bee
  5. Insecta Inspecta World, Africanized, Sometimes Called "Killer Bees", http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/bees/killer/
  6. Insecta Inspecta World, Africanized, Sometimes Called "Killer Bees", http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/bees/killer/
  7. Amanda Warner, Beekeepers warn of summer threat, http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2009/apr/21/beekeepers-warn-of-summer-threat/
  8. USDA, http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11059&page=3
  9. USDA, http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=11059&page=3
 

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