Morning ‘Serenity’ broken by discovery of Africanized bee colony

Santa Clara Fire Department responds to a bee colony in a water meter box, Santa Clara, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – Firefighters and police responded to a call of “killer bees” in a water meter box on Serenity Lane in Santa Clara Thursday morning. The colony of bees was found around 10:30 a.m. by a city worker who was checking the meter.

“He opened it and the bees flew out,” Santa Clara Fire Chief Dan Nelson said, “but he did not get stung.”

Santa Clara Fire Department responds to a bee colony in a water meter box, Santa Clara, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Santa Clara Fire Department responds to a bee colony in a water meter box, Santa Clara, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

Both the Santa Clara Fire and Santa Clara-Ivins Police departments responded to the call. A small colony of bees, with a queen, had taken up residence in the meter box, Nelson said.

“Typically, the Africanized variety lives in the ground, meter boxes and things,” Nelson said, “and they are a little more aggressive.”

Africanized bees arrived in Washington County in 2009, Washington County Bee Inspector Casey Lofthouse said in a previous interview. Feral swarms now have a good chance of being Africanized and should be treated with caution.


Read more: Be season: Balls of bees in trees, swarms; what you need to know


“Rather than take chances with kids in the neighborhood, we just destroyed the bees,” Nelson said.

Firefighters used a soapy water foam generated by the firetruck to destroy the bees. A small honeycomb was removed from the utility box, complete with larvae and honey.

The Fire Department would rather not destroy any bees, Nelson said.

“We’d rather a beekeeper come, but there wasn’t one available,” he said.

Santa Clara Fire Department responds to a bee colony in a water meter box, Santa Clara, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Santa Clara Fire Department responds to a bee colony in a water meter box, Santa Clara, Utah, May 14, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

Fire departments keep a list of available beekeepers who can come out and remove colonies or swarms.

“I’m a beekeeper; I hate killing bees,” Nelson said.

Because the colony was small and new, it was less aggressive than it could have been, Nelson said. The colony just didn’t have many bees yet.

While Nelson said he believes the bees were Africanized, there’s no way to tell for sure without a genetic test, and he encourages people to use caution.

There are two types of “swarms,” Lofthouse said: established colonies and reproductive swarms. Established bee colonies can be much more dangerous than reproductive swarms, as bees will mount a strong defense of their home. When established colonies are disturbed or threatened, they will attack anything perceived as a threat, Lofthouse said.

Reproductive swarms can be quite alarming because they can contain thousands of bees, often in a ball or cluster. However, these swarms are generally quite docile, Lofthouse said.

If residents have any concerns about bees, or see bees coming in and out of a structure, they are encouraged to call their local fire department.

“If they give us a call, we’ll take care of them,” Nelson said.

Generally, a beekeeper will be called to remove the bees, if possible.

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4 Comments

  • fun bag May 14, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    They were just regular honey bees, not african bees, but the guys there couldn’t feel as tough if they’d said they just killed a whole colony of poor old regular honey bees.

  • CaliGirl May 15, 2015 at 5:20 am

    Nelson says, “I’m a beekeeper” out of one side of his mouth then says, “none [beekeepers] are available” out the otherwise of his mouth. Huh, what does that mean?

    • fun bag May 15, 2015 at 8:41 am

      This Nelson guy sounds kind of kooky doesn’t he. Does he have any actual credibility besides his gov’t position?

  • Samuel November 28, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Africanised would be great after work pets! The lil’ reptiles cool right down about it when the temperature drops away!
    With aggressive bees e.g. feral or Africanized, they tend to explode as a whirlwind, if you have met the outer perimeter patrol bee(s) you can have a good idea of how close you are.
    If they calm down and you move again and that becomes a bigger explosion then you will need to start from further away hanging around to get to know them.
    “Always approach feral bees from upwind”(to get to know them) so they can recognise you are there and yourself at a distance!

    Unfortunately it takes at least a month of sitting around near feral bees reading the newspaper after finding the patrol first and feeding it honey fingered treats on the outer edge territory 50 – 100 yards from the nest or leave a honey strip on your wall outside when the patrol spots you at your door(often takes a sting or too from secondary patrol when you get up close after the patrol lets you through – note: The patrol is the one comes over to you at the perimeter and flys side to side in front of you).

    Unfortunately, bees are like anything else surviving alone, unless you help them at something they don’t need you, again if you don’t offer them a better nest(40 Litres size is minimum for ferals to be tempted – 2x full depth Langstroth supers) they don’t find any reason to do anything more than eventually know as not an actual danger.

    If they swarm, dumping them in a Langstroth will result in them being upset so they require to be somewhere they can explode for an hour or two.
    The frames should be waxed and covered along the inner edges with strips of honey and some icing sugar-honey ball mixed for the queen in there too(about four tiny finger tip sized mixed balls of it in each corner on the floor).A small flat tray of pollen too in there.
    If they do stay in the hive with their queen, the most you can do for a month is open the lid to look in, don’t move anything or they get upset and form a swarm ball on the side of the hive.
    After a week you can at least open the lid to get them familiar with that intrusion(only for a minute or two), at the end of a month you can lift a frame or two out and inspect it/them, this takes a month to be familiar with for them so watch their wings do not all start to sit up at 45 degrees from lateral to their body or all start facing you suddenly also!

    It may be wise at this point to also point you should really use beekeeping protection on you though it costs!

    One more thing, pat them along their side with your finger tip whenever possible to be allowed that close by each bee helps them keep a register of human coexistence!

    Of stopping them, A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is a good one and sometimes if you want to kill them in a confined space. For exterminators but more beekeepers a hand held extinguisher(just the same as a large fire extinguisher on a wall) should be developed with a mix of air and carbon dioxide to both cool and sleepy the bees for collection long enough to find the queen to pack her and some attendants into a queen cage(not for sale but control and re-homing), however it may require small compressed air tanks alike divers use in the ocean for a breathing system over the mouth only(carbon dioxide safety), but at least in the environment element of it all it is not seriously complex or dangerous. An air ice air conditioner that is not noisy that can get the attic below 10 degrees Celsius is among other tricks to slow them down to find the queen if she’s remained inside…

    About Foulbrood bacteria…. All i’ve known of bacteria is it can live and reproduce well over a variety of high temperature well unless maximum threshold is reached.

    Inversely on the otherhand, higher more complex delicate and simple organisms such as insects (bees) have as described below a threshold maximum much lower than any bacteria.

    The majority of commercial hives are kept in the sun and may not have heat shielded lids.

    Most lids and hives in the recreational license and by price have only a single tin lid, commercial hives probably have these by economics, which raises temperature within inches of the lid when in strong sunlight in summer to no different than the back of a solar panel such as 50 Celsius – 60 – 70 Celsius and does the fact a “heater bee” itself appears to have the optimum laboratory temperature of 45 Celsius the problem. The larvae themselves are probably suffering cannot have “entrance fanning bees”(coolers) successful at lowering the heat.

    Bacteria has the tendancy to increase and accelerate its’growth and breeding in sync with rises of temperature.

    The attacking bacteria problem combination environment is there with some types of lids and location together.

    http://www.arnia.co.uk/temperature-and-thermoregulation-in-the-beehive/
    ….Honey bees maintain the temperature of the brood nest between 32°C and optimally 35°C
    …. a heater bee can hold this position for up to 30 minutes while its thorax is at around 43°C

    http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Health_standards/tahm/2.02.03_EUROPEAN_FOULB.pdf
    ………..This organism is isolated most efficiently by inoculating decimal dilutions of the aqueous suspension into agar that has been maintained molten at 45°C and which is then poured into plates. The plates must be incubated anaerobically, such as in McIntosh and Fildes jars in an atmosphere of approximately 5–10% carbon dioxide (CO2) at 35°C. Small white opaque colonies of M. plutonius usually appear within 4 days…………..

    Dehydration is also commonly mentioned in the larvae corpse symptom list with bacteria.
    A large quantity points to overheating!

    There is a lid design nick-named a “migratory lid” in Australia that comprises a “flat masonite sheet cover” over the hive super “topmost section”, then four edge blocks 1 1/2 inches high to sit under the tin cover with four holes with vent covers to allow slow but able air flow through between the tin (as a multi section lid). The masonite cover requires a small 3cm diameter hole in the center for air flow(oxygen context only).

    This is what i have over my hive because “nothing in Australia would survive the tin lid temperature” when it were suddenly either or be exposed within two inches of the tin lid on some days !

    Another feature of bees is swarming, and with wild bees i always wondered why leave a perfectly good nest once a year? Probably because its “cleaner” TOO, not merely reproduction and overcrowding.

    Thinking to try each year at about 20 days before the mid day of Autumn , put a new brood box with either foundation-frames or completely drained recent construction(new wax) honey frames from same sized super into a new super for brood , put the queen excluder under the old brood box and place the queen in the new separated under brood box and remove the old brood box when the last brood have hatched in the old box.

    Leave the empty of larvae brood frames super set outside for the forage in it to be removed and retrieved to the new box for a few days then….
    Destroy the old brood comb(maybe bury or by incinerator fire).

    One factor in fouldbrood bacteria is probably temperature because of immense direct radiation from tin hive lids.

    However, a weird little known feature of all creatures is “inbreeding ability”. Inbreeding never did anything any good and while there is much possibility to occur, the real reason it could occur with managed(non wild hives) is because of lack of drones anywhere and mainly in the spring summer, from “starvation”(the drones starve or are very inactive from starvation).

    This would be because of a set of features not normally mentioned in the construction of a hive.
    1. The queen excluders
    2. The reservoir box.

    The above 2 are not mentioned much.

    The reservoir box is a honey super above the brood box with a larger hole round wire mesh the queen can near get through but slips and falls off because she is too large.
    The round wire larger hole excluder allows drones through although they are as wide as the queen.

    This reservoir stops the drones starving to death.

    The top of the reservoir box(either a full deep or WSP-three quarter size) then has a narrower plastic excluder only the workers are likely to get through.
    Queen excluder hole sizes are a propriety maker size and should be evaluated.
    There should be at least a brood box(has very little food for 20 – 40 drones and is mostly larvae very little of anything edible !!! )
    AND a reservoir for drones and wintering.

    Too few available or unable starving drones could cause inbreeding statistically.

    Inbreeding never did anything any good no matter how hardy capable against it by it’s species !!!

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