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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Africanized Bees Could Be on Move This Fall

LAS CRUCES -- Although Africanized bees have spread slowly and quietly in southern New Mexico so far, they could pick up speed this fall, a New Mexico State University entomologist said.

"The wet weather in late summer is going to increase the number of blooms, water, food and cover for bees," said Mike English with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "It's certainly going to make an impact on how they can move."

To date, Africanized bees' presence has been confirmed in five counties -- Hidalgo, Luna, Dona Ana, Eddy and Lea -- and they may have slipped into other counties undetected.

"We are maintaining traplines along the edges of the areas where Africanized bees have been found," English said. "However, just because we have only found them in the southern tier of counties does not mean they're not in other areas."

This fall, English urged hunters, hikers and outdoor fun-seekers to keep an eye out for bees.

"You just need to be careful, and if you see bees, give them a wide berth," he said. "They can be aggressive."

English said while an Africanized bee sting is the same as any other bee's, Africanized bees are more easily angered.

Fortunately, since the bees were found in New Mexico three years ago, few serious stinging incidents have been reported.

Last month, a Hatch man was stung repeatedly by Africanized bees near a local business, along with volunteer firefighters and a pest-control operator who came to his aid. In October 1995, a woman living north of Las Cruces was hospitalized with an allergic reaction to bee stings and four of her puppies died.

People who suspect they are allergic to bee stings should visit a doctor for medication and carry it with them, English said.

"There are some very isolated areas in New Mexico, like up on the Black Range in the Gila, for example, where you can be 40 or 50 miles away from medical care," he said. "One of my biggest fears about Africanized bees is that someone could be stung in that situation."

If bees attack, the best defense is to run, English said.

County Extension offices throughout the state have more information about dealing with Africanized bees.
Related Links:

* Africanized Honey Bees Home Page