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Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

Do Africanized Honey Bees AKA “Killer Bees” Exist Within Louisiana

Many people are familiar with Africanized honey bees, but just about everyone has heard the term “killer bees” numerous times. The Africanized honey bee is an extremely aggressive non-native honey bee in North America, and due to their aggressive swarming behavior around humans, which sometimes results in fatalities, the species has become known as the “killer bee”. Africanized honey bees (AHB) are native to Africa, but a scientist brought the species to a laboratory in Brazil in order to breed the species with other species in an effort to increase honey yields. Shortly after beginning his interbreeding program, the AHB escaped and slowly migrated north, eventually arriving in Texas in 1990. Shortly thereafter, the AHB began to interbreed with common European honey bees in New Mexico and Arizona. By 2001, AHB arrived in Louisiana for the first time at Caddo Parish. In 2005, officials with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry determined that Caddo, Calcasieu and Cameron parish had become infested with the aggressive non-native bees. By 2007, the AHB arrived in New Orleans, and today, officials are attempting to reduce their populations with traps located in various areas of the state.

Africanized honey bees are not as resilient to cold weather and bouts of rainfall as their European counterparts, which helps keep the bees under control in rainy Louisiana. This also explains why AHB pose the greatest public health risk in Arizona compared to all other states where the bees have established hives. The dry Sonoran desert is an ideal habitat for AHB, making attacks in Louisiana more rare.

It is not easy to tell the difference between common European honey bees and AHB, as both species appear nearly identical, only European honey bees are slightly larger in body size than AHB. Behavioral differences between the two species are more pronounced, although both species become aggressive when their hives are approached or disturbed by humans. Of course, AHB are far more aggressive than European honey bees, and AHB are known for pursuing humans over greater distances than European honey bees. While both species are often found nesting within homes, particularly within wall voids, it is exceptionally rare for and AHB colony to establish a nest within a Louisiana home.

Have you ever been pursued by an angry honey bee swarm?

Hurricane Katrina Brought Killer Bees to Louisiana

As if having to live through one of the most devastating hurricanes we’ve seen hit the United States wasn’t bad enough, the residents of Louisiana also had to deal with some uninvited guests that hitched a ride on the storm. We are still dealing with the massive damage that this city-destroyer caused, but what many people don’t know is that it didn’t just destroy the land and homes that it hit, but that Hurricane Katrina also brought insects pests with her to invade Louisiana in the aftermath. This wasn’t just some extra mosquitos either. One insect that is universally feared and terrifies any and all that it comes in contact with is the killer bee, also known as the Africanized honey bee. This was the gift this particular storm brought along with her. I think this is one present the residents of this state would rather return.

It was as they were recovering from the hurricane that residents of the flood-damaged New Orleans discovered they had yet another problem they were going to have to deal with. As people were going around and fixing all of the damage the hurricane caused, they began to find swarms of killer bees inhabiting the vacant buildings and other areas. One storm-wrecked home that was confirmed to be infested with killer bees was surrounded by traps set by agriculturalists in a half-mile radius. Initially, the bees drove away the contractors that had been hired to tear the house down, but then they also scared off the beekeepers that were called in to take care of them. In the end, only the brave mosquito workers were able to kill the bees, which were then confirmed by the state agricultural department to be hybrids that did, indeed, carry the strain of the aggressive Africanized honey bees. Officials believed that the bees they found were likely descendants of killer bees that had stolen a ride on a ship that came to New Orleans.

Africanized honey bees are the unwanted lovechild that resulted from an experiment in Brazil to increase their production of honey. One swarm of these much more aggressive, hybrid bees managed to escape the lab the experiment was taking place in in 1957 and, of course, headed north in our direction. Unfortunately, as these bees mated with other native bees, the increased aggression from the African parent’s strain did not decrease, and the offspring born with this strain (even ones far removed from the original hybrids) are just as aggressive as the originals. And so, many more descendants, all born with this increased aggression, have proliferated and spread to inspire terror in all who come in contact with them. Talk about a science experiment gone south…or, rather, north!

Have you ever seen Africanized honey bees? How much do you think natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina contribute to their spread?

If You Think That This Woman’s Addiction To Venomous Bee Stings Is Creepy, Then You May Not Want To Know Why She Cant Stop “Using”

Most people consider the widespread use of illicit drugs to be a pervasive social problem, and sadly, it’s a problem that seems to be getting worse by the day. For the past few years in the United States, the overdose rate from opioid drugs has skyrocketed, and this disturbing trend is being exacerbated by the availability of new forms of unregulated opioid substances. Although opioids dominate contemporary drug control discussions, there is another, albeit lesser known form of drug abuse that is ripping one particular family apart. This particular drug is, of course, bee venom. Well, perhaps this particular form of drug abuse is not considered a public health threat, but one woman, Margaret, from Morningview, Kentucky has been stinging herself with honey bees for a decade now, and needless to say, this bizarre and dangerous habit is of serious concern to her family. To add another strange aspect to Margaret’s unique addiction, the bee stings have an aphrodisiac effect that makes the addiction even more difficult to kick.

Ten years ago, Margaret began stinging herself with honey bees in order to relieve her arthritis. According to Margaret, her first bee sting was not painful to her, and she noticed that the venom seemed to relieve her arthritis. Over the years, Margaret’s addiction intensified, and now she stings herself with live bees about 100 times per week. Margaret is able to sustain her addiction by raising bees in hives within her backyard. When Margaret needs a fix, she snatches a bee with tweezers, and sticks the insect’s stinger directly into her skin. Margaret’s husband, JD, is understandably worried about the effect that the repeated bee stings may be having on his wife’s health, but Margaret claims that she has developed an immunity to the pain caused by the venom. However, Margaret’s doctor has warned her about the distinct possibility of developing a dangerous or even fatal allergy to the venom as a result of sustaining numerous stings on a regular basis. Due to the guilt Margaret feels toward the bees that she kills by forcing them to sting her, she has cut back to ten stings a day as opposed to her usual fifteen.

Do you think that sustaining several bee stings daily for years could result in the development of unique medical conditions?

 

Man Covered Himself With More Than 600,000 Honey Bees

Many people harbor a fear of arthropods. There is just something about the look of spiders, insects and even crustaceans, like lobsters, that give people the creeps. The term “arachnophobia” is well known to mean a fear of arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, but the general fear of insects, or “entomophobia,” is not as common as the fear of spiders. While many people consider all arachnid species to be terrifying, there exists many insect species that even the most fearful of entomophobes are perfectly okay with, such as ladybugs or honey bees. Although honey bees are capable of dealing out painful stings, they are not commonly feared to the same degree as other stinging insects, like wasps. This may be due to the fact that bees make life on earth much easier for humans, as they pollinate valued crops and provide delicious honey as well as useful beeswax to humans. However, an individual honey bee is one thing, but a swarm of honey bees is something else entirely. Upon encountering an active honey bee hive or a wild swarm, it is not unreasonable to fear for your life, as honey bee attacks result in numerous human fatalities each year. Despite the clear danger that bees pose to humans, one seemingly fearless man has broken a world record by allowing his body to become completely covered with honey bees. To be more precise, the combined weight of all the bees that covered the man weighed even more than the man himself.

Ever since the mid 1800s, the act of “bee bearding” has been a popular carnival attraction. The term comes from the practice of allowing hundreds or even thousands of bees to congregate on a performer’s face in order to appear as though the performer has a beard made of live bees. Over the years, the practice of bee bearding became more intense as stunt performers progressively allowed more and more bees to congregate on their body. Therefore, it should not be surprising to learn that stunt performers have been consistently setting new world records for the amount of bees used in bee bearding stunts. The latest daredevil of this sort, a Chinese man named Ruan Liangming, has just broken the latest world record in bee bearding by allowing his body to become covered in more than 140 pounds of bees. The amount of individual bees on Ruan’s body was estimated to be near 637,000, and 60 of these bees were highly aggressive queen bees. According to Ruan, the trick to avoiding stings during bee bearding stunts is to remain calm. This should be helpful advice to any aspiring carny hoping to indulge in bee bearding for a living.

Have you ever seen the act of bee bearding portrayed in any films or TV shows?

The Unlikely Insects That Pollinate Plants In Arctic Regions Where Bees Are Almost Non-Existent

Many people picture arctic regions to be nothing more than vast landscapes covered entirely with snow. In reality, only the most northern regions of earth are comprised entirely of barren landscapes of frozen snow. Plant life is surprisingly diverse and abundant in southern arctic regions, but pollinating bees are not. While some pollinating bee species do exist in arctic regions, they are far too scarce to perpetuate arctic plant life on their own. Obviously, this means that pollination duties in the arctic must be carried out by other types of airborne insect life.

Bees are associated with pollination for a good reason, as bees pollinate the majority of the world’s flowering vegetation. However, in the arctic, flies are largely responsible for carrying out pollination duties. The most significant pollinating insect in the arctic is closely related to the common housefly. Unfortunately, the current global decline in insect populations could lead to a drastic decrease in arctic vegetation. In fact, this troubling trend is already occurring.

Flowering occurs in arctic regions immediately after the first snow melt of the season. At this time of year, flowering plants compete intensely for the pollination services that flies provide. Only the flowers that are most attractive to pollinating flies will reproduce. According to Finnish researchers, the diversity and number of flowering plants in the arctic is decreasing. It has been theorized that this decrease is occurring in response to the global decrease in Muscidae species. “Muscidae” is the name given to the family of flies that are referred to as common flies, as they are distributed in all regions of the globe. Also, the warming climate is causing snow to melt earlier than normal, which results in an earlier bloom. This is problematic as many flowering plants die before the annual abundance of pollinating flies arrive. Since the continued seed production of arctic vegetation depends almost entirely on Muscidae flies, it may not be long before plant life ceases to exist in the arctic.

Do you think that the dying-off of arctic vegetation due to the decrease in Muscidae flies will have a negative impact on humans in any way?

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