Africanized bees still under study in Dougherty County -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Africanized bees still under study in Dougherty Co.

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Source: Dale Richter Source: Dale Richter

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Dougherty County Commissioners want you to remain alert, two months after Africanized bees killed a Dougherty County man.

NASA Scientists are trying to predict where the bees might turn up next and to figure out how they got to southwest Georgia. They were surprised when the bees first turned up in Dougherty County instead of southeast Georgia. Researchers continue to test bees in our area.

Bee expert Dale Richter was asked to come before the county commission today to update them on the situation and let them know where they need to go from here. They're planning on training after the first of the year for first responders and utility employees making sure everyone knows what to do if they encounter a beehive.

People in Melvin George's neighborhood are on edge since learning the bees that killed neighbor Curtis Davis in this field on Williamsburg Road may have also been in the pillars that were removed from his Lily Pond Road home.

"We're going to put more emphasis from an organizational point concerning bees," said Melvin George, a neighbor.

Beekeeper Dale Richter plans to speak to their community group. Richter has been busy with hives like this one found under a tractor at Grand Island and just last week this hive discovered inside the walls of an East Albany home. Between 50 and 60 bees have been tested.

"We haven't found anything at this point we are waiting on some samples to come in that may give us some different news," said Richter.

A lot of questions still haven't been answered.

"Why are they in Dougherty and how did they get here?" said Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines.

NASA scientists have been modeling where the bees were found and where they might go, using imaging and weather patterns.

"The theories are that they could have come up through Florida, hitch hiked onto a truck or anything," said Richter.

Either along Highway 91 or Highway 19, or from migratory bee keepers traveling though. Either way, it's an all new ball game when it comes to handling bees.

"Our responsibility is to try to disseminate that information to the public and make sure that they are aware that these bees are here," said Gaines.

Which is why Commissioners urge people to heed the warnings and run the other direction if they spot a hive, leaving it to the professionals to handle.

Beekeepers expect some more results later in the week on bees that have been tested. They say it gets difficult with cooler temperatures to continue trapping the bees because they won't fly when temperatures are cooler than 48 degrees.

The South Dougherty County Community League will meet with Beekeeper Dale Richter December 14th. He warns that Africanized bees will build nests in the ground and in trees. He says anyone moving or clearing debris need to be cautious.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has a publication on Africanized honeybees that is available online ( or at Extension offices.

Here is more information from the Georgia Department of Agriculture:

Africanized Honeybees

  • Are very defensive of their nest (also referred to as a colony or hive).
  • Respond quickly and sting in large numbers.
  • Can sense a threat from people or animals 50 feet or more from nest.
  • Sense vibrations from power equipment 100 feet or more from nest.
  • Will pursue a perceived enemy ¼ mile or more.
  • Swarm frequently to establish new nests.
  • Nest in small cavities and sheltered areas.

Possible nest sites may include empty boxes, cans, buckets, or other containers; old tires; infrequently used vehicles; lumber piles; holes and cavities in fences, trees, or the ground; sheds, garages and other outbuildings; and low decks or spaces under buildings.

General Precautions

  • Be careful wherever bees may be found.
  • Listen for buzzing – indicating a nest or swarm of bees.
  • Use care when entering sheds or outbuildings where bees may nest.
  • Examine work area before using lawn mowers and other power equipment.
  • Examine areas before penning pets or livestock.
  • Be alert when participating in all outdoor sports and activities.
  • Don't disturb a nest or swarm – contact a pest control company or your Cooperative Extension office.
  • Teach children to respect all bees.
  • Check with a doctor about bee sting kits and procedures if sensitive to bee stings.
  • Remove possible nest sites around home and seal openings larger than 1/8" in walls and around chimneys and plumbing.

As a general rule, stay away from all honeybee swarms and colonies.  If bees are encountered, get away quickly.  Do not stand and swat as this will only invite more stings.  If you are stung, try to protect your face and eyes as much as possible and run away from the area.  Take shelter in a car or building, and do not worry if a few bees follow you inside.  It is better to have a few in the car with you than the thousands waiting outside.  Hiding in water or thick brush does not offer enough protection.

What to Do if Stung

  • First, go quickly to a safe area. 
  • Scrape – do not pull – stingers from skin as soon as possible.  The stinger pumps out most of the venom during the first minute.  Pulling the stinger out will likely cause more venom to be injected into the skin.
  • Wash sting area with soap and water like any other wound.
  • Apply an ice pack for a few minutes to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Seek medical attention if breathing is troubled, if stung numerous times or if allergic to bee stings.

Don't Forget!

Hives of European honeybees managed by beekeepers play an important role in our lives.  These bees are necessary for the pollination of many crops.  One-third of our diet relies on honeybee pollination.

People can coexist with the Africanized honeybee by learning about the bee and its habits, supporting beekeeping efforts and taking a few precautions.

  •   Africanized honey bees swarm more frequently than other honey bees.
  • Unlike typical hives that swarm once every 12 months with a new queen going off with the swarm and the old queen staying behind, Africanized honey bees may swarm as often as every 6 weeks and produce a couple of separate swarms each time.
  • Since Africanized honey bees swarm more often, the likelihood of encountering a swarm increases significantly.
  • Africanized honey bees are less selective about where they nest than European honey bees. They will occupy much smaller spaces than other hives and have found in old tires, overturned flower pots and mailboxes.
  • Regardless of myths to the contrary, Africanized honey bees do not fly out in angry swarms to randomly attack unlucky victims.
  • However they defend a much larger territory than European honey bees and are extremely aggressive when protecting their territory and their brood.


If attacked, RUN. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need assistance. As you are running, pull your shirt over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting your head and eyes.

 Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter.

 Do not jump into water. The bees will wait for you to come up for air.

 If you are trapped, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes or whatever is available.

 Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees produce a smell that will attract more bees.

If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately.

The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1,100 stings.

When you reach shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When honey bees sting, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the bee so it can't sting again, but it also means the venom continues to enter the wound for a short time.

 DO NOT PULL OUT STINGERS WITH TWEEZERS OR YOUR FINGERS. This will squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

If you see someone being attacked by bees Do not attempt to rescue someone being attacked by bees yourself! Encourage them to run away or seek shelter.

Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack.

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