Efforts to check the advance of the so-called killer bees northward through Mexico have been unsuccessful and, as a result, the United States must start planning strategies to cope with the unwanted pests once they arrive in this country, according to the American Farm Burean in Park Ridge, Ill.
The bees' unchecked advance is expected to be discussed Friday and Saturday at the Utah Beekeepers Association annual convention at the Utah Department of Agriculture Building.According to an announcement Monday from the Farm Bureau, the entomological barriers established in Mexico to stop the advance of the Africanized bees aren't working.
Don Rawlins, director of the AFB's Natural and Environmental Resources Division, said the bees are moving through the barriers intended to stop their spread through Mexico and into the United States. "We must assume now that the bees will arrive in the United States sometime in 1989," he said.
Rawlins said this country must develop strategies to handle the bees once they reach the U.S. border. "This includes re-queening contaminated hives, breeding to dilute the unwanted characteristics of the Africanized bees and controlling the spread of the Africanized species within the U.S."
The American Farm Bureau said its Agricultural Research Foundation has helped to fund research under way at the University of Kansas designed to provide a quick classification of queen bees to determine whether there has been a contamination of breeding stock.
The university is also studying the flight and mating patterns of Africanized bees as part of the control strategy. According to Dr. Orley Taylor of the University of Kansas, the advancing Africanized bees are developing none of the Europeanized traits despite encounters with large numbers of European honey bees.
He said the Africanized bees are going to reach the U.S. essentially unchanged.
Scientists believe the Africanized bees are much more aggressive in their flight and mating practices and overwhelm the more docile European strain. They abandon their hives more readily and are more easily provoked than European honey bees, making handling much more difficult.
Rawlins said separate U.S. Department of Agriculture studies now under way in Mexico will help to distinguish the swarming practices of European bees from the Africanized strain, which could ultimately provide clues to the dominance of the unwanted pests.
The AFB Africanized Bee Advisory Committee has scheduled a meeting in Harlingen, Texas, next March and will travel into neighboring Mexico for briefings on the control and research efforts.