WICHITA, Kan. (April 1) - Kansas officials are bracing for the first swarms of so-called "killer bees" to cross into the state as early as this year, the Kansas Department of Agriculture said Thursday.
Killer bees typically move northward about 100 miles to 300 miles each year.
Federal and state agriculture officials have been setting up traps along the state's southern counties to detect their arrival and have notified emergency first responders. They also have prepared an informational pamphlet for the public.
"Anytime you have something that potentially can have a negative impact on what you are doing every day, you need to become aware of what you should do to keep yourself and your family safe when you are in that environment," said Tom Sanders, coordinator of the Kansas Agriculture Department's Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey.
The highly aggressive Africanized honeybees bees already have been found in Oklahoma just two counties south of the Kansas state line. They typically move northward about 100 miles to 300 miles a year. Africanized honeybees also have spread to Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Arkansas and Florida.
Commonly known as killer bees because their behavior is aggressive, Africanized honeybees are easily provoked. A single sting is no more dangerous or painful than a sting from any other honeybee, but Africanized bees attack in far greater numbers than more docile domestic bees. Fewer than 20 deaths have been linked to killer bees in the last 16 years, when they first arrived in Texas.
A person walking within 50 feet of a colony can trigger an attack, as can someone operating power tools or lawn equipment as far away as 100 feet from a hive, according to the Agriculture Department.
If the bees colonize in Kansas, the Agriculture Department plans to provide educational support and help the public identify them, Sanders said. A database would also be maintained so public to pinpoint areas of infestation.
Because the Africanized bees look similar to the calmer European bees now in Kansas, the Agriculture Department plans to set up a lab capable of providing the DNA analysis needed to accurately distinguish them, he said.
"It has been the experience of other states that eradication has not been effective and is not practical, so Kansas at this point does not have any plans to even attempt eradication," Sanders said. "If you see a hive, you can kill a hive, but to think you can exclude a pest like this from this state is impractical."
kansas braces for first swarm of killer bees
Published: April 2, 2006, 9:43 am