Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for April 29, 2009
Paria man has unwanted houseguests
Dale Fausett has some unwanted houseguests, and they''re creating quite a buzz.
The Kane County resident lives in a small group of 15 homes approximately 15 miles west of Big Water, often referred to as the Paria area. He discovered bees in the eaves of his house, and they were seriously aggressive.
"I first tried to get rid of them myself by spraying Off on them, that just seemed to make them angrier," said Fausett. The bees began actually harassing him, dive bombing him when he walked outside or to his car. He has been stung a number of times, once right under the eye.
Fausett called the Kane County Sheriff''s Office, and they promptly sent a deputy out to check the situation. He took a bee sample and sent it off to the appropriate testing agency. Subsequently, the state agency sent several people out to inspect the beehive in Fausett''s house.
"The queen was definitely of African decent," said Jeremy Peterson, Compliance Specialist with the Division of Plant Industry, after the bee DNA was examined. He said Fausett had a colony living in his crawl space that definitely had the genetic quality of African bees.
Peterson went on to explain there are about 30 different breeds of honeybees. The popular European and African breeds are not largely different in behaviors, only African bees, due to competition for food and area in their area of origin, have evolved to be much more aggressive.
The important thing is not necessarily that the African (killer bees, as they have been labelled) sting is more dangerous, it''s the number in which they respond to their leader.
When a European queen bee feels alarmed, she sends off a signal, and two or three will respond and attempt to sting the potential threatening source. In an African (or hybrid) colony, if the queen believes there is a threat around their colony or food source, she sends off a signal and they will send 200-300 in response. Anytime a human or animal gets attacked that many times, the stings can be injurious or even deadly, for the unfortunate whatever is in their way.
Fausett was given three options. He was told to contact a licensed beekeeper in the area. He was given a number of a keeper in Big Water, and has left messages without response. He could attempt to seal the hive area, which Fausett said was not an option, due to them attempting to negotiate the venting system and subsequently being driven inside the house. The third avenue is having a pest control company come in and fumigate, and deal with the hive(s). In St. George, this has often included pulling out walls where they''ve burrowed in - a very expensive proposition.
Peterson said what they offer is identification services for the homeowner. "Licensed beekeepers are our first line of defense." He said most Utah beekeepers usually have well-managed European bee colonies, and will help you remove unwanted colonies in a safe manner.
Entomologist Ed Bianco, also of the Division of Plant Industry, said his agency cannot intervene on private property to exterminate the bees, especially since Utah is a private property state. He said if the hive was on state property, they could respond. "The only thing we can offer is advice."