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Robber bees on the loose.

In North Georgia, there is a strain of bees whose role in life is like unto outlaws of the old west. They steal the lifeblood of diligent working honey bees.

They have twice the size and twice the strength of honey bees. With their superior bulk, they force their way into the brooder where they steal honey. The workers take stored honey from the super and replace that which is stolen. The guard bees mobilize and fight the invasion, but because the swarm spends so much time fighting and replacing honey they become progressively weaker, until the queen and her remaining followers have to abandon the brooder or hollow tree. The robber bees then use the vacated combs and honey to breed more robber bees.

The easiest way to protect the brood is to install a queen/drone trap at the entrance, and remove the grill wire from the top section. This allows any robber bees trapped inside to escape, but prevents any from entering the hive. They are larger than any queen or drone from any swarm of bees that I have worked.

Three years ago, Randy Johnson was looking at some bees and told me, "They are the biggest bees I have ever seen. They are black and bigger than queens and drones in my hive."

"Those are robber bees, not honey bees," I told him.

In April they arrived here on Taylor Town Road and tried to take over two of my brooders. When they piled up at the entrance, I put ice cubes in a small hand sprayer and sprayed them with ice water until they were immobilized. They were then easy to rake into a gallon bucket and kill. I did this until one gallon of robber bees was caught and killed at each brooder, in front of the queen/drone traps.

Not only do we homesteaders who keep bees have to worry about "wax-months", bears and mites invading our hives, but now there are these monster-bees which I have named Hive Killer Bees (HKB's). They will gradually spread throughout the United States wherever there are "wild bee trees" for them to take over and multiply their kind. There is no stopping them.

I believe they were the direct result of our Department of Agriculture's policy of recommending that our farmers use hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals to grow America's food. When they changed the ecology of the farmers' fields from biological to biochemical, all insects and soil lifeforms changed.

Sometime in the past bees have brought into the hive, from the farmers' sprayed fields, toxins that made their way into the food supply of a developing queen bee. I believe this mutated the chromosomes, and changed the genetic helix. As a result, the queen laid eggs that produced Hive Killer Bees.

I first encountered these HKB's in March, 1984, just south of Carters Lake at Oakman, Georgia. I was lining bee trees by feeding them honey when they were working dandelion flowers, and "sight lining" the bees to their tree-home. When watching their entrance hole with binoculars, I noticed these large bees forcing their way into the bee-tree. Not knowing what was happening, I returned that fall to cut the tree and collect the honey, to find no bees, no honey, nothing. An empty tree.

I have talked with other bee keepers as far south as Cartersville, Georgia, and north to Ellijay, Georgia, who have seen these big bees entering their hives and lost their bee stands to foul brood. They go together.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Dycus, Roy
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:590
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