Thursday, September 30, 2010

Orlando's WESH 2 reports on us fixing an unlicensed beekeepers mistake

We recieved a call this morning from a man who was frantic. A beekeeper spent a couple days performing an Orlando Honey Bee Removal from the foreclosed home next to him, and succeeded only in aggravating the bees so much, that they were stinging this client's dog, son and plenty of neighbors.

WESH-2 news covered us rescuing this neighborhood from these very, very defensive honey bees. It's unknown if they are Africanized Honey Bees ( Killer Bees) but they certainly were angry enough to qualify, just on our observations. Here's a link to a slideshow that was posted on WESH's site. They are running the story on the 11PM news tonight.

WESH beekeeper slideshow

What's particularly unfortunate here are a few things:

1. The listing realtor hired a beekeeper to do the removal. Beekeepers are not allowed to remove honeybees from structures and most landscapes here in Florida, unless they are also Licensed Pest Control Operators. As it's a lengthy and expensive process to obtain and maintain a PC license, most beekeepers who perform bee removals operate outside of the law. The realtor essentially washed his hands of it, stating that he's not a beekeeper and can't do anything. Well, he hired the bloke, who caused this mess, he's responsible, along with the beekeeper..

2. The beekeeper left plenty of hive material lying around, and possibly used wasp spray to control the bees. Bad juju, almost guaranteed to aggravate honey bees.

3. The neighbor's wife is so allergic, that one sting can threaten her life. Most beekeepers get so used to stings, that they poo-poo the severity of sting allergies. One sting can cause a hypersensitive person to physically stop breathing in 2 minutes. Just last week, a pest control operator died, after receiving only 3 stings.  Think this is not serious stuff? Think again.

4. The neighbor's dog was attacked by multiple bees on 2 occasions. The dog was so traumatized, he vomited and had diarehhea. Pets and horses are even more susceptible to Bee and wasp stings than humans. It's quite possible that this pet has suffered internal injury because of the venom's effects.

So, once again, we are faced with improper bee removal in Orlando, and lives have been put at risk. Folks, please, please please, don't hire a beekeeper to perform structural removals in Florida. We have loads of African Honey Bees here, and it's just too risky in many cases to attempt live removals.

Contact us here at We are the experts, as we have well respected Entomologists, Licensed Pest Control Operators and Beekeepers on staff. Call us at 800-343-5317

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist

Monday, September 6, 2010

Free Hornet Nest Removal

FREE Hornet Nest Removal
(Note: this promotion is EXPIRED. stay tuned, as we may offer it again!!)
Yes, you read the title correctly, we are offering Free Hornet Nest Removals, no strings attached. We are participating in a research trial,  and are looking for suitable candidates for this trial.  However, there are conditions to be met, in order for these nests to be included in the free hornet removals. And some exclusions exist as well. Should your nest not qualify, we certainly can perform removals at a reasonable charge.

Here are the conditions:
  1. The nest must be located in one of the following counties: Marion, Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Putnam, Clay, Bradford, Union, Lafayette, Suwannee, and the southern portions of Columbia and Baker Counties. Please see map below highlighting areas covered.
  2. The nest must be active. (containing live adult hornets, at the minimum. Live immatures are ok, too.)
  3. The nest must be Bald-Faced Hornets, scientific name is Dolichovespula maculata .  Please see representative photos below. Other species of stinging insects are not included in this program, including Yellow Jackets ( Vespula spp.), Paper Wasps ( Polistes spp. ), Honey Bees ( Apis mellifera ) or any other stinging insects. We can perform removals for a reasonable fee on these other insects.
  4. The nest must be accessible and removable by normal means, either at an accessible height, or with a 12 foot stand-alone ladder. (usually no taller than 20 feet, and able to remove the nest intact. Shredded nests or pieces of nest are useless for this program)
  5. We must be allowed to use insecticide. EPA labeled insecticide will be used. If it's illegal to use insecticide at the site,  or you or the property owner/management will not allow insecticide use, the free removal cannot be included in this program. 
  6. We reserve the right to exclude any nests, at our discretion, for the free hornet removal program. 
What we are looking for:
These are some photos of hornets and their nests. They are made of a paper-like substance that the hornets make from chewed bark & other cellulose containing materials, plus saliva. Notice the banded appearance.

Hornet Nest

Hornet Nest

Hornet Nest

Hornet (Dolichovespula)

What we are NOT looking for:

Honey Bee nests including External nests
Honey Bee
Yellow Jacket nests
Yellow Jacket Nests
Yellow Jackets
Paper Wasp Nests
Paper Wasp Nest
Paper Wasp
Mud Dauber Nest
Mud Dauber
 Again, for the free removals, we only want Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nests that are active. If you have any of these other nest, as shown above, we will be happy to remove them for you at a reasonable fee.

WHERE we will perform free Hornet removals:
Free Hornet Removal area

 Counties and Cities we will remove Hornets for free:

  • Marion: Ocala, Silver Springs, Reddick
  • Levy: Bronson, Cedar Key
  • Dixie: Cross City
  • Gilchrist: Trenton
  • Alachua: Gainesville, High Springs, Alachua, Waldo
  • Putnam: Palatka
  • Clay: Green Cove Springs, Orange Park
  • Bradford: Starke
  • Union: Lake Butler
  • Baker: Macclenny
  • Columbia: Lake City
  • Suwannee: Live Oak
  • Lafayette: Mayo

 We will remove hornets in other cities/towns/unincorporated areas located in the above counties.

Give us a call at 352-870-0346 , 1-800-343-5317 Or simply send us an email here, and ask us about FREE HORNET REMOVAL. We'll be happy to discuss your nest and let you know if it qualifies for this research program.

(Note: this promotion is EXPIRED. stay tuned, as we may offer it again!!)


Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist

Friday, September 3, 2010

Killer Bees and Horses: Fatal consequences

Earlier this week, two horses were euthanized after a honey bee attack in Arizona. One other horse was seriously injured. In June of this year, two horses perished after another bee attack in California.

Reading the fire chief's description of this tragic sting event sends chills through me, as we've encountered similar situations, and in most cases, could have been prevented with proper vigilance and action.

Why the owner of the horse facility would knowingly leave active honey bee colonies in a working barn leaves me scratching my head, AND, this is in KILLER BEE territory!! (I normally don't use the term "killer bee" alone, but in this case, I think it's warranted).

I encounter this attitude daily here in Florida, where we have an active and growing KILLER BEE population. We are seeing them move into Florida's prime horse country, near Ocala.( Check this blog post out from just last week, right near horse operations).

Clients often believe that since Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been affecting honey bee populations here in the U.S. , any wild honey bee colony found should be left alone, in order to boost bee populations. While it's true, CCD has reduced bee populations, the affected bees are only in managed bee operations, those kept by beekeepers, from huge commercial operations down to hobby beekeepers. 

Feral (wild) bee populations are not affected by CCD, and are actually exploding here in Florida.

This is so important, let's see it again: Feral bee populations are not affected by CCD, and are exploding here in Florida.

Why such the increase?  KILLER BEES!  Yes, African Honey Bees are a vigorous race of bees, well suited for life in the subtropical clime we find here in Florida. And, they likely have evolved with pathogens & pests that most researchers suspect are a probable cause of CCD. So, it's natural that this vigorous, well adapted bee would do very well in Florida.

So it begs the question. Why would one leave a feral bee colony in a building that houses people, pets or animals? 

I think it's largely due to ignorance, and this ongoing belief, strongly held by most, that bees are naturally gentle, and only sting when provoked. While it's mostly true that managed honey bees are normally docile, and attack with maybe a hundred or so guards when some kind of disturbance occurs, Killer Bees ( African Honey Bees or AHB) can react much, much differently. Killer bees are wild, or feral, and the hyper-defensiveness can't be bred out of them. An AHB colony can react with provocation as light as a strong breeze or branch landing on it's colony, which means they can send out thousands of guards, all looking for anything that moves, breathes or has a heat signature. It's common for AHB attack victims to be unable to yell HELP!, because bees fill up their mouth and throat, and suffocation is a real risk. 

So, it's up to us experts to educate the public, especially those that are at greater risk, including equine operations, about the dangers of these 'new breed' of bees. African Bee infestations can be managed properly, greatly reducing the chances of a sting event, but it takes a new attitude, and working with stinging insect specialists. Beekeepers and standard pest control operators are ill-equipped to control these infestations. (Why not? see our post)

We are educating citizens, companies, utilities, firefighters, police and any interested group about the African Honey Bee and issues surrounding it. Our entomologists give presentations and offer consultations to help you manage this threat and we have specialists that remedy infestations daily. Give us a call at 800.343.5317, send us an email, or visit our website to schedule a presentation or for more info and help.

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc. Entomologist
helpful links:
Our website

University of Florida's African Honey Bee Extension & Education Program

The African Honey Bee FAQ

Frequently asked questions about African honey bees, from FDACS - Division of Plant Industry
Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry

Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab

University of Florida's Honey Bee Research & Extension Lab
The official bee keeping association in the State of Florida

Is your Bee removal company or indivdual licensed?

Structural or Landscape bee removal requires a pest control certification from the Florida Dept. of Agriculture. You can check by Applicator, or Company here. Don't let yourself fall prey to an unlicensed service provider!