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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Stinging Incident A Reminder To Be Cautious Around Bees

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico's first serious stinging incident involving Africanized honey bees underscores the need for caution this fall, said a New Mexico State University entomologist.

A woman living north of Las Cruces was hospitalized for anaphylactic shock and four Chihuahua puppies died from bee stings Oct. 28, said Mike English with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

The woman had fogged a colony around her home with an insecticide. When her puppies were attacked, she brought them indoors to remove the bees and was stung repeatedly. Afterward, she had trouble breathing and went to a hospital, where she was treated and later released.

The incident shows the need to avoid aggravating bees, English said. "While it's a good idea to check around your home for bees, if you find any, we do not necessarily recommend trying to take care of them yourself," he said. "County Extension agents throughout the state can provide lists of qualified people in your area."

English said all bees should be given a wide berth and treated with respect.

"We have a lot of feral or wild bees in New Mexico," he said. "We've had a mild winter, which allows numbers to build up. That's why it's especially important for hunters, hikers and everyone to be careful outdoors this fall."

Should you encounter angry bees, the best strategy is to retreat, English said. "Simply leave the area as quickly as you can. Run, get in the house, or get in a vehicle and close the doors," he said.

The bees involved in the stinging incident were a cross between Africanized and European bees, he said.

Only trained entomologists with microscopes can tell the types apart.

"The key difference is that Africanized bees have a bad attitude," English said. "They are more easily provoked and will aggressively defend their hives."

For information about bee-proofing your home and avoiding Africanized bees, contact your county Extension office.