Killer bee corrections

 

Killer bee corrections

Dear HCN,


As a commercial, sideline and hobbyist beekeeper (at different times in my life) for 30 years, it was interesting to see HCN cover the Africanized bee story (HCN, 6/24/02). Unfortunately, you did not cover it well. Let me try to indicate why I say this with quotes from your story and responses concerning bees.


"In a half whisper, trying not to trigger the bees." This was a dramatic picture, but certainly your bee exterminator should have known that bees are totally stone-deaf. You could have a rock band with you and the bees wouldn't hear you.


"They are a tremendously intelligent animal." This is a quote from your exterminator. I am sure it makes him feel much more intelligent. I love bees dearly but they work exclusively on instinct and not anything resembling intelligence.


"... the venom attacks nerves and blood cells, flooding your bloodstream with crud." What exactly is "crud"? In fact, the quantity of venom is so small that these effects are insignificant.


"It's been predicted that killer bees will eventually spread through much of the temperate habitat in the nation, including up the West Coast to Portland and Seattle." The most reliable and informed predictions at the present do not include Portland or Seattle as areas for Africanized bees and certainly do not include most of the temperate habitat in the nation.


"I watch one stinging my black leather camera strap ... and listen to its high-pitched song, until it gives up the stinger and falls into the dirt." This was so dramatic I felt it tug at my heartstrings. However, in 30 years of beekeeping, I have never seen a bee die immediately after stinging. Bees live for literally hours after they sting (although they die eventually after stinging). Was Mr. Ring giving us an imaginary but dramatic ending? How much of the rest of his article is imaginary?


This story, filled with misinformation and mythology, was a disappointment. Mr. Ring should have learned something about bees before writing it. There were snippets of important information such as the effect on pollination and native pollinators, changes in the bee industry, tourism, etc. But they were hard to find in the "crud."

Chuck HuntEugene, Oregon