Honey bees may be threatened by Africanized bees

By Diane Palmer

beesHoney bees are called the angels of agriculture because of their work pollinating vegetable and fruit crops. Without them, grocery stores would be missing apples, cantaloupes, cucumbers, squash, and watermelons, as well as honey. In South Carolina, about 2,000 beekeepers manage about 25,000 honey bee colonies.

“Over the past 20 years, honey bees have been threatened by two parasitic mite species and the small hive beetle,” said Mike Hood, Clemson Extension bee specialist. “Now, there’s a potential for Africanized honey bees to spread into the state.” 

Africanized honey bees have already established colonies in Florida and are expected to move into neighboring states. Called “killer bees” because of their aggressive behavior, their sting is no more dangerous or painful than that of other bees. However, more of these bees are likely to attack a hive intruder, resulting in more stings.

“South Carolina beekeepers are on the alert for overly aggressive bees and will be our first line of defense against the Africanized honey bees,” said Hood.

For information: Mike Hood, 864-656-0346, mhood@clemson.edu