RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Africanized bees, known as killer bees by some, make their hives throughout the valley. As Richard Moore shows us, local bee-keepers are able to remove the potentially dangerous colonies without harming them and turn them into valuable pollinators.
An abandoned pack rat nest at the base of a weathered mesquite conceals a colony of wild bees in the ranch country of southernmost Texas. Numerous honeycombs hang from the trunk and extend beneath the ground where thousands of bees thrive.
This hive, like nearly all the wild beehives in the Rio Grande Valley, are Africanized bees since the aggressive species first migrated from South America arriving in Hidalgo, Texas in 1990.
Valley beekeepers Glenn Simpson, Dawn Johnston and her daughter are donning their protective bee suits here at Cactus Creek Ranch east of Rio Hondo.
Glenn Simpson, Beekeeper, “Today what we are going to do is we are going to remove a feral hive of bees.”
The protective gear is necessary as the Africanized bees known, as killer bees, can be very aggressive. Attacking swarms of them have killed people and animals.
However, these beekeepers are experts, and with practiced technique they will gradually smoke out the bees from their lair, gently vacuum up the more aggressive guard bees and then relocate the entire hive into a box for transportation.
Rather than kill the bees with insecticide, they will be taken to an apiary or beekeepers property where they will be bred to become less aggressive and eventually be used as important pollinators.
Dawn Johnston, Beekeeper, “So, I will re-queen them using a different queen with gentler genetic stock, and they won’t be so grumpy.”
Bees are vital as pollinators and approximately a third of our food supply is dependent on them, and honeybees help produce some 19 billion dollars worth of agricultural crops annually in the United States.
Johnston, “They will work watermelons in LaSara when they have recovered. So that is what I do, I do pollination.”
If you have a wild beehive you would like removed then Dawn Johnston will help you out.
“You can find me on facebook, you can call me on my cell phone. My number is 956-746-1799. On facebook I am RN Hive and Honey.” says Johnston.