AHB gets a bad rap, causing more bee exterminations.
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It may be of value to address the case of mistaken identity regarding Africanized honey bees (AHB) in relation to bee removal services. Bee removal generally refers to the process of a bee guy removing honeybees from a location in which the bees are unwanted such as the wall, attic, or chimney of a home. Homeowners dealing with an unwanted beehive may happen only once or twice in a lifetime. The average person knows very little about removing honeybees. As such, when a beehive is found the property people often attempt to handle it themselves and treat it like a wasp problem
If the home-owner is persistent in their efforts to, get rid of a bee hive un-successfuly, this begins to conditions the bees to be more aggressive or protective when they see an intruder approaching the hive. Later, when a bee guy is finally called out to remove or relocate the bees, often the bees will immediately try to attack as they have been conditioned, often causing the bee remover to assume the beehive to be feral or Africanized. Consequently this process can give africanized bees a bad name, and the bee guy an inaccurate perception of honeybee behavior.
The a bee guy works with relocating bees, the more they begin to understand how to interact with them. For example, when you first approach the hive , the bees will show aggression toward you perhaps 90% of the time. However after a few minutes after opening a hive a professional experienced keeper will likely be able to un-suit or remove the head mask as the bees realize you are not there to harm them, allowing you to work freely with the bees. (Not recommended to be tried by a novice/ beginner), especially were aggressive bees may exist.
When instances or problems arise of an accident involving bees, there may be good reasons why people stretch the truth about the situation. If the bees were being killed, in some cases they feel guilty for trying to kill the bees, or they might not want to be judged as breaking a law. In addition perhaps the media or other people are involved which can influence what they feel comfortable saying. At the end of it all, the people that have become involved or hear the story are left with an inaccurate understanding.
This can give the bee guy, exterminator, and general public with the view that there are more Africanized or naturally aggressive bees than actually exist.
In the case of mistaken identity of honey bees, a more common scenario can be profit driven. Home owner calls a bee guy to get rid of the bee problem, on arrival, the home owner is told that the bees are Africanized killer bees and they have to have them removed /killed right away, and in addition the bee removal price is very high because the bees are Africanized. But no worry, they are the killer bee experts, trained and certified to solve your problem and keep you safe. This is a type of pressure sale that generally works great, it also makes the bee guy feel better about killing the bees and after repeating it enough causes the bee guy to actually believe it. In one one level it makes the homeowner feel a little better about exterminating the bees, for the most part it nice to see the problem getting taken care of. The end result is that people talk about their expensive Africanized bee problem; when most likely the exterminated beehive could have been removed humanly and often at less cost.
Among other cases of mistaken identity of the AHB, these two instances can cause the most misinformation about the AHB, but when combined with media coverage, it tends to spin the actual story once more out of reality.
In the US a great effort is taken in informing the public when Africanized bees move into a new County or State; also in developing guidelines and recommendations for preparing for and absorbing the AHB. This could be done also to remove the State or County from liability in case of a honey bee sting occurrence, perhaps the fear Africanized Honey Bee in the past has been overly hyped.
What can be done? As a bee guy or bee exterminator, visit with a beekeeper and spend some time working with bees. As a consumer in need of bee removal, look for a bee guy that relocates the bees and removes honey comb if the bees are within a structure.
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