Friday, August 20, 2010

In or Near Orlando, Fla.? Come join us for Natl. Honey Bee Appreciation Day! Sat. Aug 21, 2010

Tommorow, Saturday August 21, 2010 is designated National Honey Bee Appreciation Day.

Come join us as we participate in Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association's Natl. Honey Bee Appreciation Day located at the Orange County Extension Office. The club will have honey, candles, and other products of the hive for sale. Informational exhibits too. Hours are Saturday, August 21, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. will have Entomologists & beekeepers available and various Hymenopteran (bee and wasp) nests, videos of bee removals and information about feral African Honey Bees.

The Orange County Extension Office is located at:

6021 S. Conway Rd. Orlando, FL 32812

here's a google map:

View Larger Map

Orange Blossom's website is Orange Blossom's website is here

Our website is here

feel free to email me or call 321-206-5100 for info

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Need Bee Removal? DON'T Call a BeeKeeper!!

Yeah, sounds oxymoronic, doesn't it, after all you have a lovely colony of honey bees in your house soffit, or wall or even a tree in your yard. Call a beekeeper, they've got to want my bees, and are the experts, right?

Well, hold your horses pardner...Things are changing here in Florida and it's not as simple as you might think, so here are some reasons to reconsider.

1. Killer Bees: Over 70% of feral honey bees in Florida possess African genetics. African bees were introduced into Florida several years ago, probably through our sea ports via coastal island freighters, quickly taking up residence in the port cities of Tampa, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Yeah, Killer Bees are spreading throughout the state, and because of a very defensive nature, the state Apiary inspection office has deemed it illegal to keep African bees in Florida. These bees can cause very significant stinging incidents leading to's serious stuff, folks!

2. The bees are OK: I know this is hard to wrap your head around, but it's true...Honey bees are doing just fine, and actually exploding in numbers. (here in sunny Florida, anyway). See #1. The African Honey Bee is largely immune to pests plaguing our managed honey bee. Estimated colony increases are 2-800% above European honey bee colony numbers, per area.

3. Consumer Protections: Beekeepers are not certified or licensed. Billy-Bob Beekeeper may have started beekeeping yesterday, and claims that he is an experienced beekeeper. He screws things up, causing damage to your house, and the bees are still there. What regulatory office do you call to file a complaint or request an inspector to help you out. That's right, you are on your own, because all it takes to become a registered beekeeper is $10 and a heartbeat, and I'm not so sure about the cardiac part!

Experienced beekeepers; those that are in beekeeping for a living and not just a weekend hobby, do not perform live removals, as it's too risky for them---the liability risk is too high & the recovered bees almost always don't work well in commercial apiaries. The disease risk is too great or the bees just don't perform well.

4. Insurance..I don't need stinkin' Insurance.....Beekeepers do not have Insurance. Well, Billy-Bob Beekeeper MIGHT have livestock insurance for his bee hives, but you know that wouldn't cover damages to your house, when he cuts through the water supply and your Persian wool carpet is ruined. Nor does he have Workmen's Compensation insurance, so you are holding his medical bills when he falls off the slippery, honey soaked ladder and breaks his collar bone and is put on permanent disability. Think this doesn't happen??? um, yeah, right.....

5. And the Experts say what?: The State of Florida's Apiary Inspection office is recommending AGAINST LIVE BEE REMOVALS, and recommends ERADICATION of feral honey bee colonies located near humans or animals. See #1.

6. And this Expert agrees too: The University of Florida's Apiary Entomologist is recommending AGAINST LIVE BEE REMOVALS, and recommends ERADICATION of feral honey bee colonies located near humans or animals. See #1. (sensing a trend yet, or do you want to continue...?)

7. The Law says.. Florida State law requires anyone doing structural honey bee removal or eradication to carry pest control certification. See State Statutes, Ch 482. A licensed pest control operator that also is a registered beekeeper CAN perform live bee removals, and we DO perform live bee removals, but we are very selective, because of the following...

8. The untold truth about live bee removals: Most live removals are unsuccessful; Most relocated colonies suffer mortality within the first 90 days. Try as we might, they just don't take. The transfer can be difficult, and provides opportunity for pests and disease to take hold. Or some colonies just insist on leaving our hive boxes. 20% survival is an optimistic figure for long term survival of the colony genetics.

9. Economically speaking:
It's just not worth it: Bees that are not kept by beekeepers are considered feral. I like to call them ' Mutts', as we have no clue whether they will exhibit behaviors that are beneficial for beekeeping, including gentleness, honey production, disease resistance, swarming rates, and many other factors. Also add the high rate of transmissable disease that feral bees have, these are diseases that can wipe out an entire apiary!.

I frequently buy starter colonies of "thoroughbreds" from bee breeders for about $75.00.. These are bees that I can count on being good and safe for my bee yards. I figure the mutt bees are worth at most $15 ($75 X a 20% success rate). Live bee removals can take several hours, working in hot beesuits and in very hot Florida temps...How long will YOU work for a possible $15, while extending risk if the mutt bees sting someone, or you are sued for damages caused?

10. You've worked hard for your assets:
Sting risk liability. Combine the above considerations, and property owners, managers are placing their assets at significant risk. Bees don't like us relocating them somewhere else. We in the bee removal industry, are used to taking stings, but all it takes, is one errant sting to your allergic neighbor, or passerby on the sidewalk across your street and POW, instant lawsuit. Do you think the jury will have compassion when you were hiring unlicensed providers, against the recommendations of the state regulators and University apiary entomologists. Didn't think so either....

In Closing:
Listen, we are experts at this, and we will perform live bee removals properly, but there are considerations. We came into this the right way.. University of Florida entomology education, providing extension education to Florida's first responders and citizens, created the State African Bee education program, hold certifications and proper insurances and are considered leaders in this industry. We also are enthusiastic supporters of beekeeping in Florida. Call or email us. We'll solve your bee problems, correctly and economically, and you can have confidence that you can stay bee-free!

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist
Jonathan Simkins, B.Sc., Entomologist

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our very own Entomologist, Jonathan Simkins to be on Bay News 9

One of our very own Entomologists, Jonathan Simkins, will be featured on Tampa/St. Pete's Bay News 9 tommorow morning, Aug. 10, 2010, talking about the recent African bee attack in Safety Harbor. 3 Tree surgeons were attacked, one seriously, and quite a bit of mis-information has been making the rounds in traditional and social media. Jonathan, a stinging insect entomologist, will provide accurate information about the growing African ("Killer Bee") Honey Bee issue here in Florida, providing tips on how to prevent serious situations.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

7 August 2010: 3 Pinellas County Tree Surgeons stung by African Honey Bees

An arborist suffered hundreds of bee stings in Pinellas County, Fla., last Saturday, and is fortunate to be alive. This is a story that is repeated more and more often, as African ( Killer ) honey bees increase their numbers throughout the state. It's interesting for us, as Entomologists teaching about this defensive stinging insect, because we see attitudes changing in terms of location and time.

When I give talks to tree folks in North Florida, most of the guys (girls too, but I speak in the familiar inclusive way here), tell me that honey bees cause them little if any problems. "They buzz around a little, and a can of wasp spray will take care of them", is a common statement. Well, things-are-a-changin' as this story shows. African bees will attack en-masse, and that can of wasp-freeze will only set them off even more. Oh, and unless that arborist has a pest control license, it's illegal for him (or her) to spray pesticide. That should perk the ears of your insurance company if a sting event occurs on your property!

Excerpt from 10 Connect breaking news story. We were on scene and will report later

Safety Harbor -- A group of tree trimmers were attacked Saturday afternoon after cutting down a branch with an Africanized, or what many refer to as a "killer", bee colony inside.

It happened in the front yard of a home off 3rd Street South in Safety Harbor.

The worker near the top of the tree was stung at least 150 times, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Two other workers were also stung trying to help him reach the ground and get away from the attacking bees.

A fourth tree trimmer was not hurt.

The three injured workers were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff's office.

A beekeeper on scene estimates there were around 50,000 bees in the tree.

10News has learned the names of the three men taken to Mease Countryside Hospital are Ralph St. Peter of Hudson, Anthony Cimillo of Holiday, and Michael Foster of Weeki Wachee.

St. Peter will be kept overnight, while Cimillo and Foster have been released.

You'll hear from them tonight on 10News at 11.
Adam Freeman, 10 News

And the August 8, TBO report excerpt:

He had bees on his arms, legs, face, nose and ears. And when Ralph St. Peter opened his mouth to scream, the bees piled in his mouth. Bees went up his shorts and down his shirt.

"My body was totally encased in bees," St. Peter said, recounting co-workers' description. "You couldn't actually see my body. You just saw the frame of my body."

St. Peter was discharged from Mease Countryside Hospital on Sunday, a day after being stung by more than 500 Africanized honeybees. He still has some pain and discomfort, but he'll return Monday to cut down the oak where the bees had a hive.

"I'd like to take a couple of days off, but I can't afford it," St. Peter said. "If times were a little better, I'd take a day or two off. But it's not."

The Weeki Wachee man was working with a crew Saturday afternoon cutting down three trees at a Safety Harbor home.

A crew leader with Johnson Lawn and Landscape of Tarpon Springs, St. Peter was cutting down a limb when a swarm of Africanized honeybees attacked him.

He tried to repel down the tree, but the rope got stuck on some limbs. The bees came from a hollow log that was 8 feet long and 24 inches wide.

Two of St. Peter's co-workers ran off, but Mike Foster stayed to help. Foster got a knife to St. Peter, who was able to cut the rope and free himself after being stuck in the tree for two to three minutes. Foster was stung 75 times on his hands while trying to get the bees off him, St. Peter said.

"(Today) it feels like I had a run in with a whole bunch of jellyfish," St. Peter said Sunday. "That's how it feels today. Yesterday, it was downright terrible."

St. Peter, 44, has been in the tree business for 30 years and has been a certified arborist for 20 years. He has been stung in the past but has never faced anything like he experienced Saturday.

A domestic honeybee will send two or three bees to attack a person, and the rest of the bees will take off with the queen, St. Peter said. Saturday, the Africanized honeybees came as a swarm.

St. Peter said a professional exterminator was hired to get rid of the bees, so he feels confident returning to finish the job. (yes, this should have been done BEFORE tree work--RMM)

In the future, St. Peter said he'll be cautious when working a hollow tree.

"It definitely won't happen again," St. Peter said.

Reporter José Patiño Girona can be reached at (813) 259-7659.

Nothing to take lightly folks.

Richard Martyniak