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Bees in your bonnet



They're here, finally, as predicted by ag officials. After all, killer bees have been on the move northward from Central America since the 1950s and 12 California counties, including Kern, Ventura, and Santa Barbara, have been infested for some time now.

So it was no surprise when a small swarm of killer bees was recently turned up by a beekeeper in Arroyo Grande. It's not that killer bees, or Africanized Honey Bees, are any more lethal, it's just that they are more ferocious. They are virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary bee, but they are more defensive in guarding their hive around a much wider area, and tend to swarm faster and in larger numbers. In other words, while their venom is the same and they die after a sting, more of them will chase you farther and cause more harm.

What can beekeepers do? Reduce the hive population using genetic management techniques, like introducing a more docile European honey bee into the infested hive.

What can you do? If you're chased by a swarm, cover your face with your jacket or shirt, run away in a straight line, and look for an enclosed structure. See a doctor if you're stung multiple times or are allergic to bee stings. Notify agriculture officials if you spot a hive. For more info, visit www.sloag.org.

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