Thursday, 28 January 2010

CATCH THE BUZZ - African Bees Not An Economic Threat


Killer Bees Aren’t So Bad After All…

by Alan Harman


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   The researchers at the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say while the bees ruined domestic hives and damaged profits in South and Central American when they arrived in 1956, the analysis shows little or no impact on North American honey production.

   Charles Moss, one of the analysts behind the report and a professor in the department of food and resource economics, says a more pressing economic concern for beekeepers is colony collapse disorder.

   Moss says the analysis, published online by the journal of Ecological Economics, seems to indicate virtually no hive loss to the bees and any economic loss was likely due to the cost of preventive measures taken by hive keepers to keep the Africanized bees away.

   “This helps to show that the primary concerns with Africanized honey bees are liability and safety, which are everyone’s concern and aren’t strictly attached to beekeepers,” he says. “Beekeepers already have a much more pressing economic concern from CCD.”

   Moss says the analysis indicates beekeepers have been taking the optimal actions to reduce the effects of Africanized bees – actions such as those widely promoted by state agencies.

   Jamie Ellis of the university’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory says beekeepers usually change their management styles when Africanized bees are in the area. These steps can reliably keep Africanized bees from overtaking domestic hives.

   “I am not surprised about the lack of effect of Africanized bees on honey production,” he says.

   Ellis, who did not participate in the economic analysis, says certain factors, such as the need to replace queen bees more often, may drive costs up. And some beekeepers may lose money if they choose to leave lucrative bee-removal businesses due to worries about Africanized bee encounters.

   Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services head of apiary inspection Jerry Hayes says he’s worried that a more severe economic impact on beekeepers may come from overzealous zoning of domestic beekeepers due to misguided worries that having domestic bees may attract the Africanized bees.

   “Honey is a byproduct of pollination, which is the most important aspect of managed honey bees,” he says. “If beekeepers are zoned, ordinanced and restricted out of areas because of fear – then it is people putting the strain on the keepers and their ability to produce, not the Africanized bees.”


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A University of Florida economic analysis finds Africanized honey bees are not adversely affecting the North American honey industry even after spreading throughout 10 states.