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Bees Making Headlines in California For All the Wrong Reasons.

"Good Bugs" Can Be "Bad Bugs" in the Wrong Places

Vote for Your Favorite "Bad Bugs" at www.whatsbuggingyounow.com

SAN DIEGO -- A swarm of bees forced a virtual lockdown of a Huntington Beach neighborhood last month, and nearly 100 people attending a fireworks display at the Alameda County Fair were stung when a swarm of bees attacked the audience.

Further south, a 54-year old man in San Diego County died in mid-June from anaphylaxis after being stung multiple times by a swarm of bees. And that same month, two horses in Riverside County died after being swarmed by Africanized honeybees.

Bees have been making headlines this year in California for all the wrong reasons, fueling the fear most people have for them.

"We should be putting out the welcome mat for bees," explained Don Shultz, technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense, one of the nation's largest residential pest control companies. "Bees are a perfect example of how an insect can be both a 'good bug' and a 'bad bug' depending on where you find them."

On the one hand, they are vital for California agriculture. In fact, almond growers in the state use some 1.3 million colonies of bees each year--approximately half of all honeybees in the United States--to make sure their almond groves flourish.

"Not only are bees responsible for pollinating crops like almonds, without them we wouldn't have apples, oranges, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage and more than 90 other crops," he pointed out. "And in addition to that, they also make honey."

But on the other hand, "when they take up residence on your property and threaten you and your family, they are definitely 'bad bugs.'"

His advice: "Call in a professional to get rid of them." This is particularly good advice if the colony is an Africanized honeybee which are found in most areas of southern California and are much more aggressive than native honeybees.

In fact, while a typical hive of honeybees sends 10 to 100 bees to respond to a disturbance, Africanized bee hives send thousands of bees. "It can be a life-threatening situation," Shultz points out. "Even if you are not allergic to bee stings, 1,000 stings can be a serious matter."

But even Africanized honeybees do not attack unless they are provoked, so it's a good idea to be on the lookout for their nests and stay away from them. (They like to build in cool, shaded places like walls, attics and tree cavities like in this video on the WhatsBuggingYouNow.com website).

To keep bees from building hives in the first place, Shultz recommends caulking any possible entry points on your home's exterior and covering wide gaps and vents with eighth-inch mesh screen. The usual quarter-inch screens will not prevent bees from entering. It's also a good idea to clean up any debris like tires and unused flower pots that might provide nesting sites.

To avoid attracting bees when you are out in your yard or garden, Shultz recommends that you:

* Avoid fragrances like cologne, perfume or scented soaps which can attract bees

* Don't wear bright colored clothes, particularly clothing with a floral pattern

* Be very careful with cans of soda. Bees can climb into the can and will sting when you take a sip.

* Wear shoes, a hat and long pants which give the bees less of a target.

His advice on what to do if you disturb a hive is succinct: "Run. Try to get indoors and close the door behind you."

A video of a bee hive in a tree is at www.whatsbuggingyounow.com. Visitors can vote on any of three bug videos on the site for a chance to win a different prize every 30 days including a Flip Video, a Canon PowerShot or an iPad.

HomeTeam Pest Defense, a recognized leader in the pest management industry, is currently the nation's 3rd largest residential pest control company. The company offers pest and termite control services with traditional treatment methods and with advanced products such as the innovative Taexx[R] built-in pest control system. The company has more than 50 branch locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Mid-Central, Southwest and Western states. HomeTeam is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Rollins, Inc (NYSE:ROL).
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 3, 2010
Words:820
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