"Changing seasons bring about a new need to remain vigilant" By Aaron Sumrall, PhD County Extension Agent Agriculture & Natural Resources

   It is hard to believe by the days of upper 90s on the thermometer, but the changing of the season is already underway.
   Many migratory birds have begun to make their appearance in the skies above Matagorda County along with some other little winged friends.
   I have been receiving calls for about a month now concerning swarms of bees throughout the county.
   I have personally witnessed several myself during the workday in all locations of the place we call home.
   Most all instances to date have been of no concern to the health of people, pets, or livestock, just merely observations and a side note in the conversation.
   However, there have been a few that have contacted the Matagorda County Extension office following a less than positive encounter that, in a handful of cases, ended up with necessary medical attention.
   On a personal note, I now can tell you with 100 percent certainty that a zero-turn mower cannot outrun upset bees.
   I, like many of you, mow my yard on a regular basis and this past Friday was time to do it again.
   Not paying attention to the eve of my house ended in less than a positive manner with me having to remove some 20 stingers!
   I am lucky to not be allergic to the stings of bees and wasp and did not need medical attention, however, if it had been my son, we would have been in trouble. 
   During the mere few days since the previous mowing, a colony of bees had set up residence in the attic of my home.
   I should have known by the recent increasing presence of swarming bees to pay closer attention.
   There are more than 3,500 species of bees that inhabit Texas and North America and the agriculture of Matagorda County is heavily dependent on their presence.
   The vast majority of bees are solitary in nature and seldom make their presence known to us.
   Hives (permanent or temporary) can be established promptly.
   Honey bees (European or African) are in the minority as a social bee and are not native to Texas or North America but were brought here by early settlers.
   Social or colonizing bees will vigorously protect the hive if and when provoked.
   The way bees can be provoked is dependent on a few primary factors.
   First is the species of bee.
   Africanized Honeybee is much easier to provoke when compared to European Honeybee.
   Determining the species is not accomplished by physical appearances.
   The two species are almost identical to the naked eye and determinations are declared based on DNA or microscopic analysis.
   Secondly is vibration in the area of the colony. Vibration to bees basically equates to an attack on the colony.
   This is where the vibration of my mower caused my situation on Friday.
   Tractors, mowers, and even loud radios will result in such a response. Next is the time of year.
   The hotter the temperature, the easier it is to provoke and attack.
   Bees and wasp are more docile early and late during warm months or days. 
   During the next several weeks until the cooler temperatures find their way to Matagorda County, pay attention to your surroundings a little closer.
   Watch for these new visitors setting up shop in your attic, out buildings or barns, old equipment, or just on a limb or in the hole of a tree.
   If you do not have unwanted visitors in your home yet, check to see that all entry points into your attic or walls have been sealed.
   If you do find that you have a pest situation with bees, call a professional.
   If you find you have a colony, do not try to remove a colony unless you are trained to do so.
   Attempting something like this can likely end negatively.
   Entry points bees are using may be several feet to the true hive and homeowner treatments may likely not make it to the hive.
   Should you be attacked take the ACE approach.
   A- Alert others in the area.
   C- Cover your head and face but do not block your vision.
   E- Exit the area. Get into a secure location you’re your car or house immediately.
   Once you are in a safe location, assess your condition. Bees are different that wasp in that they can only sting once in most instances.
   When a bee stings the stinger will pull out of the bee as it flies away. The venom glands will still be attached to the stinger.
   If you try to remove stingers, do not pull the stinger out with your fingers as you will squeeze the venom gland forcing more venom into your system.
   To remove the stinger, use tweezers so you can just pull the stinger or use a credit-type card to scrape the stinger out.
   Should there be multiple stings, or even one if you are allergic, immediately seek medical attention. 
   Don’t let bees and other critters dampen the remainder of your summer just be aware of your surroundings as Mother Nature begins to move them around in preparation of a coming season.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet