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Sept.'s Africanized Bee Stats: Two Hurt, Sixth County Added to List

LAS CRUCES -- In a rash of bee attacks this month, two men were hospitalized, several pets died and Africanized honeybees were confirmed in a sixth New Mexico county.

On Sept. 26, bees found in Grant County were confirmed as being Africanized, said Mike English, entomologist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. At least five other counties -- Hidalgo, Dona Ana, Luna, Eddy and Lea -- have Africanized bees.

Africanized bees may be in surrounding areas as well, English said. "I would urge people to be cautious around recreational areas at Elephant Butte because we've found the bees 200 yards from the Sierra County line."

English pointed out that in one of the most serious incidents a Dona Ana County man was stung 200 to 300 times by European or domesticated bees.

"All of these incidents are serious and show the need to be especially cautious outdoors this fall," he said.

If you find bees on your property, English recommended calling the county Extension office or a certified pest control operator for help.

"Give bees a wide berth and don't attempt to deal with them yourself," he said. "It can be dangerous."

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture tested bees from four incidents this month:

* Sept. 22 - Two dogs chained in neighboring yards in the Hurley area (10 miles southeast of Silver City in Grant County) died from bee stings. The bees were Africanized.
* Sept. 20 - A city worker in downtown Lordsburg was severely stung after disturbing a colony of bees while using a backhoe. He suffered a heart attack and was airlifted to Albuquerque, where he went into cardiac arrest a second time. By Thursday, his condition had improved and he was moved from the cardiac care unit to a regular hospital room. The bees involved showed the most Africanized traits of any tested yet in New Mexico, English said.
* Sept. 19 - An 85-year-old man was stung several hundred times while driving a front-end loader near Brazito in rural Dona Ana County. The bees were European.
* Sept. 9 - A large swarm of bees slowed down work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. The bees were European.

Related Links:

* Africanized Honey Bees Home Page