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Africanized Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Appearance:
Honey Bees have hairy, yellow and black striped abdomens. The female workers have small sacs attached to them called corbicula or “pollen baskets”, to carry pollen.

Size:
½-inch long.

Behavior:
Honey bees exist in colonies containing one breeding female, or queen, and thousands of males, or drones, and sterile female “workers”. They all work together in a highly social order, each carrying out specific duties to maintain and operate the hive. Colonies are perennial, usually surviving for several years. An average beehive can contain around 50,000 bees.

Each egg is laid in a single cell in a wax honeycomb that is produced and shaped by the workers. The cells will also be used to store honey and pollen. The brood comb is where the queen lays her eggs. The queen can lay over 1500 eggs per day and can live from 2-8 years. Larvae undergo several moltings before pupating. The drones’ sole purpose is to mate with a new queen. They have no stinger, and any left at the end of mating season are considered non-essential and will be driven out of the hive to die.

The workers, which make up a vast majority of the hive, have many functions. Young workers, called “house bees”, construct the comb, rear brood, tend to the queen and drones, clean and defend the hive. Older workers, called “field bees”, forage outside the hive to gather nectar, pollen, water used in hive construction.

They possess pollen sacs on their hind legs, an extra stomach for storing and transporting nectar or pollen, and a stinger that is used for defense. The worker can only sting once, as the stinger is left in the victim, causing it to die from a ruptured abdomen.

Colonies reproduce by swarming, which typically occurs in May or June. A swarm consists of the original queen and several thousand workers. A swarm will cluster on a branch near the original nest while scouts seek a new permanent location.

Habitat:
Wild nests are typically found inside hollow trees and other semi-hidden spaces. In some cases a colony will decide to nest inside an attic, a crawl space, or a wall void in a home. Honey Bees are commonly seen in flowering gardens.

Economic/Health Concerns:
As field bees forage for nectar, pollen sticks to the fuzzy hairs on their bodies. Some of this pollen rubs off on the next flower that land on, thereby fertilizing the flower and resulting in the pollination of approximately 130 agricultural crops. These include fruit, fiber, nut, and vegetable crops. Bee pollination adds approximately $14 billion annually to improved crop yield and quality.

Control:
Although honeybees are generally not as aggressive as Africanized killer bees, they should nonetheless be regarded from a safe distance as they will sting if their hive is disturbed or ruptured. If a hive or nesting site is found it should be handled by a pest control professional and/or beekeeper.

If you are stung, gently scrape the stinger out to remove it. Promptly applying a paste of meat tenderizer with water or vinegar to the stung area will soothe the pain. The meat tenderizer contains the enzyme papain, derived from papaya, breaks down protein, which is why it tenderizes meat. Venom contains proteins, which is probably why this remedy works.

Carpenter Bee

Appearance:
Carpenter bees are black with a metallic sheen. The thorax is covered with bright yellow, orange, or white hairs, and the top of the abdomen is black, glossy and bare. They also have a dense growth of hairs on their hind legs.

Size:
Approximately ¾ to 1 inch long.

Behavior:
Carpenter bees are solitary insects that differ from other bees as they do not form colonies. Adults emerge in spring to mate. Carpenter bees are so named because they nest in excavated galleries in wood; however, they do not eat it, preferring to feed on pollen and nectar. They are actually important pollinators of flowers and trees. They are generally cause cosmetic rather than structural harm to wood, but numerous generations can cause considerable damage to existing galleries over time.

Using her strong jaws, the female carpenter bee will bore a clean cut, round entrance hole on the lateral surface of wood that will evolve into a sort of gallery over time. It is a time and energy consuming process and they prefer to enlarge an old nest rather than excavate a new one. The female will work into wood perpendicular to the grain for 1-2 inches and then make a ninety-degree turn and excavate along the wood grain for 4-6 inches to create a gallery or tunnel.

Carpenter bees are solitary insects that differ from other bees as they do not form colonies. The male does not live long, so after mating in the spring, the female alone forms 6-10 “brood cells” inside. They consist of a formed ball of pollen and regurgitated pollen at the far end of the gallery. She lays an egg on this mass, which is walled off with a plug of chewed wood pulp, and dies soon after this labor. The larvae feed on the mass until adulthood, which usually takes around seven weeks.

The new adults stay in the gallery for several weeks and then chew through the cell walls and venture out in late August. They collect and store more pollen and travel back and stay in the gallery through winter, emerging the following spring to repeat the cycle. Male Carpenter bees are considered a nuisance pest but are harmless to humans as they lack a stinger. Females do have a stinger, but are typically docile and tend to sting only when handled.

Habitat:
Carpenter bees nest in a wide range of softwoods and hardwoods, particularly if it they are weathered. It is easier for them to tunnel through woods that are soft and have a straight grain. They typically prefer softwoods such as pine, fir, cedar, cypress, oak, and redwood.

Carpenter bees also attack structural woods and other wood products, such as fence posts, utility poles, arbors, firewood, and wooden lawn furniture. In buildings, they nest in bare wood near roof eaves and gables, fascia boards, porch ceilings, decks, railings, siding, shingles, shutters, and other weathered wood. They tend to avoid wood that is well-painted or covered with bark.

Carpenter bees usually do not make their entrance hole in an exposed area. The inner lip of fascia boards is a common site of attack, as well as nail holes, exposed saw cuts, or other weakened areas.

Economic/Health Concerns:
Though carpenter bees seldom cause significant structural harm, their repeated colonization of the same wood and the use of the same colony over many generations can eventually cause considerable wood damage.

Carpenter bees sometimes build new tunnels near old ones, which they continuously labor to enlarge and refurbish. A gallery can extend for 10 feet or more over time. Replacement is necessary when the strength of structural beams, posts, poles, and other wood products is reduced from bee damage.

They also leave unsightly damage by depositing yellowish to brownish streaks of excrement and pollen on surfaces below entry holes.

Control:
keep all exposed wood surfaces well painted with polyurethane or oil-base paint to discourage Carpenter bees from excavating since they can easily attack exposed wood. Seal existing holes with caulking, wood putty, or a wooden dowel affixed with wood glue. If possible, fill the entire gallery with sealant. Carpenter bees will not chew their way out of a sealed gallery due to behavioral constraints.

In new nests, larvae and pupae can be killed by inserting a long wire into the entrance hole and probing into the gallery as far as possible. Wood stains will not prevent damage, so consider using aluminum, asphalt, vinyl siding and similar non-wood materials that Carpenter bees avoid.

Africanized Honey Bee

Appearance:
Africanized honey bees (killer bees) are yellowish-brown with dark brown bands on the abdomen. They are almost identical to common European honey bees; the difference can usually be determined by measuring their wing size.

Size:
Approximately 3/8 to ½ inch in length.

Behavior:
The Africanized honey bee is a result of mating between African honey bees and European honey bees. They resulted from an experiment in the mid-1950’s designed to breed a superior honey bee that was suited to tropical conditions. However, the African queens escaped and interbred in the wild with European honey bees, resulting in “Africanized” offspring.

The venom of the Africanized honey bee is no more poisonous than that of the European species. However, they are more defensive if provoked, respond faster and in larger swarms, and will travel greater distances from their nest to chase an intruder. Also, vibrations from motors and loud noises, such as the sound of a lawnmower, seem to disturb them greatly.

Africanized honey bees are no more likely to sting than European honey bees-the venom of both types is almost identical- and they are not indiscriminate hunters. The term “killer bee” is actually somewhat of a misnomer.

Africanized honey bees typically colonize large areas and will leave the colony altogether and exhibit a trait known as “absconding”; they will move to a new location if their environment does not suit them, such as harsh winters or very dry summers. They may abscond on flights of several miles.

Habitat:
Africanized honey bees are not particularly discriminating when it comes to choosing nesting sites. They often build nests in the ground, in cavities in trees and under buildings, old tires, abandoned vehicles, in sheds and other outdoor structures, etc. In rare cases a colony will decide to nest inside an attic, a crawl space, or a wall void in a home, but more so if it is unoccupied. They have spread through South America and most of the southwestern U.S., and have also been found in Florida.

Economic/Health Concerns:
European honey bees that interbreed with Africanized honey bees are harder to control as pollinators and may produce less honey. This should be considered since honey bees produce about $150 million worth of honey a year and add at least $10 billion to the value of more than 90 crops in the U.S. as they are natural pollinators. They are a vital link in U.S. agriculture.

Their venom is similar to European honey bees; both leave their stinger in the wound with a tiny venom sac attached and can only sting once before they die due to abdominal rupture. Stings can be painful; however most deaths that have been attributed to Africanized killer bees occur from severe allergic reactions, often from many stings resulting from a disturbed nest.

Control:
Africanized honey bees cannot be distinguished with the naked eye and should be treated with caution as one would with other bees or wasps. If a nest or nesting site is found it should be handled by a pest control professional and/or beekeeper.

If you do disturb a nest and start to get stung, try to stay calm and get away as quickly and safely as possible. Cover your head and with a jacket or shirt and run in a straight line into the nearest shelter. Africanized honey bees have been known to nest in utility boxes; to prevent this from occurring, seal cracks and holes or cover them with small-gauge wire mesh. Also check the walls and eaves of all structures and approach abandoned structures with caution.

If you are stung, gently scrape the stinger out to remove it. Promptly applying a paste of meat tenderizer with water or vinegar to the stung area will soothe the pain. The meat tenderizer contains the enzyme papain, derived from papaya, breaks down protein, which is why it tenderizes meat. Venom contains proteins, which is probably why this remedy works.


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Custom Pest Solutions
2200 N. Forsyth Rd. #K09
Orlando, Fl 32807
Phone: 407-672-1181
Email: service@custompestsolutionscfl.com