UF research finds that 'killer' bees haven't stung U.S. honey production

January 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In just a few years after Africanized honey bees were introduced to Brazil in 1956, the aggressive bees had dominated and ruined domestic hives throughout South and Central America. According to University of Florida research, however, the same story isn't playing out in North America.

According to an economic analysis from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, since their arrival in the U.S. in October 1990, Africanized honey bees (often called ) haven’t had a substantial economic impact on the honey production of domestic hives — even after spreading throughout 10 states.

The analysis, published online by the journal of Ecological Economics, seems to indicate virtually no hive loss to the bees — any economic loss was likely due to the cost of preventive measures taken by hive keepers to keep the Africanized bees away, said Charles Moss, one of the analysts behind the report and a professor in UF’s department of food and resource economics.

“This helps to show that the primary concerns with Africanized honey bees are liability and safety, which are everyone’s concern and aren’t strictly attached to beekeepers,” Moss said. “Beekeepers already have a much more pressing economic concern from .”

CCD is a mysterious phenomenon which has reduced the population of honeybees in the U.S. by about a third every year since 2006.

Moss said that the analysis indicates that beekeepers have been taking the optimal actions to reduce the effects of Africanized bees — actions such as those widely promoted by state agencies.

“I am not surprised about the lack of effect of Africanized bees on honey production,” said Jamie Ellis of UF’s Research and Extension Laboratory, who helps inform Florida’s beekeepers on how to deal with Africanized bees.

Ellis, who did not participate in the economic analysis, says beekeepers usually change their management styles when Africanized bees are in the area. These steps can reliably keep Africanized bees from overtaking domestic hives.

However, certain factors, such as the need to replace queen bees more often, may drive costs up. And some beekeepers may lose money if they choose to leave lucrative bee-removal businesses due to worries about Africanized bee encounters.

Jerry Hayes, head of apiary inspection at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, worries that a more severe economic impact on beekeepers may come from overzealous zoning of domestic beekeepers due to misguided worries that having domestic bees may attract the Africanized bees.

“Honey is a byproduct of pollination, which is the most important aspect of managed honey bees, he said. “If are zoned, ordinanced and restricted out of areas because of fear — then it is people putting the strain on the keepers and their ability to produce, not the Africanized .”

Explore further: 'Killer' bees swarm in South Florida

Related Stories

'Killer' bees swarm in South Florida

April 24, 2006

So-called killer bees have attacked a farm worker, killed a goat and a sheep and injured several other animals in an April 14 attack in South Florida.

Bee keepers across U.S. suffering losses

April 24, 2007

Beekeepers across the United States are noticing a large loss in hives from year to year and it is being attributed to colony collapse disorder.

Study: City bees better than rural bees

January 17, 2006

A French beekeepers' association says it has determined bees reared in cities are healthier and more productive than bees raised in rural areas.

'Killer bees' arrive early in Tucson

March 9, 2006

So-called killer bees have reportedly arrived in Tucson, Ariz., early this year, with a shortage of food on the desert causing colonies to move about.

Asian bees threaten Australia

June 15, 2007

Four swarms of Asian bees found in Cairns, Australia, may pose a serious threat to the country's honey bee population.

Probing Question: What's killing the honey bees?

March 1, 2007

Far away from the snowdrifts outside our windows, spring is unfolding in California as the almond trees begin to bloom. Missing from the party are millions of honey bees typically trucked in to pollinate the $2-$3 billion ...

Recommended for you

Tiny protein coiled coils that self-assemble into cages

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A large team of researchers with members from Slovenia, the U.K, Serbia, France and Spain has developed a technique that causes proteins to self-assemble into geometric shapes on demand. In their paper published ...

The importance of asymmetry in bacteria

October 17, 2017

New research published in Nature Microbiology has highlighted a protein that functions as a membrane vacuum cleaner and which could be a potential new target for antibiotics.

Fish respond to predator attack by doubling growth rate

October 17, 2017

Scientists have known for years that when some fish sense predators eating members of their species, they try to depart the scene of the crime and swim toward safer waters. This sensible behavior is exactly what evolution ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.