Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

AHB Public Advisory - February 11, 2009

((This article was first posted in 2009.  The information here may be outdated))

It is now clear that the Africanized honey bee (AHB) population has moved into the State of Utah. It is likely that due to the several pathways into the state and the prolific nature of the bee, and the lack of natural enemies or effective eradication products and techniques, it will establish itself in areas of Southern Utah. How far north it migrates is not known.

UDAF, in cooperation with other agricultural stakeholders, is developing the tools to protect the beekeeping industry and educate the public on how to learn to live with this potentially dangerous insect. At some point, the aggressive behavior of these bees will become more common. Interaction between AHBs and people and animals will likely happen if it hasn't happened already.

For the last 14 years, Utah has been surveying for the AHB along the Nevada and Arizona border The program involves placing 100 baited traps in areas suitable to support the AHB. The bait hives are checked on a two-week cycle based on the reproduction habits of the AHB.

Since 1994, when the AHBs was detected in the state of Arizona, the UDAF has regularly taken samples from bee traps and run diagnostic tests. Until recently none of the samples tested positive for AHB. In 1999, when the African Bee was detected in Mesquite, Nevada, 30 miles from Utah's border, the UDAF began distributing public information pamphlets to Washington County stakeholders and offered first responder training to the St. George Fire Department.

We are not aware of any serious attacks on humans or animals in Utah.

This letter provides some background information on the AHB situation. And to help you prepare for potential encounters with AHBs, we encourage you to follow the safety precautions listed below and to educate your stakeholders as well.

AHB safety precautions

  • Be attuned and alert to buzzing in your environment - this may indicate a nest or swarm of bees
  • Use care when entering sheds or outbuildings where bees may nest
  • Examine work areas before using power equipment such as lawn mowers, weed cutters, and chain saws - the noise excites bees
  • Be alert when engaged in all outdoor activities

 

Utah has about 350 beekeepers who contribute more than a million dollars to the economy. Honeybees contribute significantly to Utah's $1.5 billion agriculture economy through their pollination of fruits, vegetables, alfalfa and other crops.

  • Teach respect and caution of all bees.
  • Visit with a doctor about bee sting kits and procedures if sensitive to bee stings.
  • Do not disturb a nest or swarm of bees, leave the area immediately, and contact a pest control company or your county extension agent.
  • If attacked by aggressive bees, run as fast as possible to a safe area. Aggressive AHBs may pursue for up to a quarter of a mile.
  • If stung:
    • Go quickly to a safe area
    • Remove stingers by scraping - use a flicking action with a finger nail or credit card. Do not squeeze or the stinger may stay in and get infected
    • Apply ice
    • Seek medical attention immediately if breathing becomes labored.

 

If you have any questions, need further clarification, or if we can assist you otherwise, contact the Division of Plant Industry, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food; St. George office at (435) 634-5708; or the Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-7123.