Spring brings more than bluebonnets to Central Texas
By LPR Staff
While Central Texans enjoy the pleasant temperatures and scenic blossoms the springtime brings, many do not consider the dangers that come with the season.
One of those dangers reared its head in rural Caldwell County on Tuesday, as a man and his pet were attacked by a swarm of bees. Initial reports indicated the man r
eceived as many as 50 stings, but he later refused medical attention.
According to the Texas A&M University Department of Entomology, bee swarms are most likely in the spring and autumn months, when colonies expand and new queen bees set off with their drones and workers to establish new hives. The bees will congregate in a “swarm,” often in trees, buckets or other areas where they can remain close while building a new hive.
After the hive is built, however, the bees will start producing honey and baby bees. At that point, they become protective of the hive – and protecting their home is the most common reason why bees sting.
In Caldwell County, both European honey bees and their more fearsome cousins, the “Africanized” honey bee are common. While the Africanized species is often more aggressive, the two cannot be distinguished by the naked eye alone. All bee swarms should be considered equally dangerous.
The simplest way to avoid bee stings is to simply avoid hives and swarms. Bees are likely to nest inside buckets, cans, empty boxes, old tires and other such containers; those nesting habits make it easy for humans to inadvertently disturb the hive and cause the bees to become defensive.
TAMU advises removing potential nesting sites from residential property, and taking additional precautions when entering garages, sheds and other areas where bees tend to nest.
Although common lore suggests spraying diesel fuel on a hive will kill bees and keep them from returning, practical evidence suggests the remedy is more dangerous than useful. Bees are unlikely to be deterred by diesel fuel, and the fire hazards created by spraying flammable substances on hives far outweighs any potential usefulness.
Instead, residents who find a bee hive or swarm on their property should contact a beekeeper or pest control company to remove the hive as soon as possible.
In addition, people should know if they or anyone in their family are allergic to bee stings, and have a sting kit and emergency procedures in place in the event of stings. Although most stings alone are not fatal, both allergic reactions and multiple stings can be deadly.
For more detailed information on bees in Caldwell County, contact the Caldwell County Extension Office at (512) 398-3122 or visit www.honeybee.tamu.edu.