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Swarming Season for Africanized Bees Begins

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MERCEDES – The Rio Grande Valley Beekeepers Association said 100 percent of the bees you’ll come across in the Valley are Africanized bees.

The Africanized bees are known for its defensive nature.

Mike Perez said he could only stand and watch as a swarm of bees attacked his dogs almost two years ago.

"We need the bees, don't get me wrong. But we don't need killer bees! Because that's what they'll do! They'll kill you if they can,” he said.

Perez claimed each of his two dogs received close to 150 bee stings. Neither made it out alive.

"We finally got the dogs in the house but it was too late,” said Perez. “They died a couple of days later. The female dog lost her pups."

Swarming season coincides with the springtime blooms, according to experts. More blooms mean more food for beehives.

As the hive grows, “drones” or male bees, whose sole purpose is reproduction, leave the hive in search of new queens, creating a swarm.

Jimmy Lawrence is a Valley beekeeper and president of the RGV Beekeepers Association. He keeps his bees tucked away in farmlands near the border, far away from residential areas.

When they swarm, they’re nowhere near families or pets.

“Well the problem with Africanized bees and it’s really a problem not only for beekeepers but for people locally is that they’re so aggressive,” he said.

Lawrence said he’s forced to handle Africanized bees. He captures them, and mates them with queens of a more docile species.

The results are colonies that are much easier to handle. In the span of a month, he said he witnesses changes in color and behavior.  

“After about 30 days, all the Africanized bees will mostly have already died out. And they’ll give birth to new bees in the hive,” he explained.

Perez offered words of caution to anyone who’s considering removing a beehive on their own.

"Don't try to do it yourself. If you are, get a bee suit, a heavy one because you're going to get attacked. That's for sure,” he said.

Lawrence advised calling a professional to remove your bees is always your best course of action. He said if you’re going to have a hive removed, keep your loved ones and pets indoors and warn your neighbors. 

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