Education key to preventing dangerous bee attacks - CBS 5 - KPHO

Education key to preventing dangerous bee attacks

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Virl Dowdy knows his bees. He has been a local beekeeper in Arizona for decades.

"I've been beekeeping for 30 years or more," said Dowdy.

Dowdy said the culprits behind yesterday's bee attack are Africanized honey bees whose hive was disturbed.

"With an African hive that's grown to capacity, someone is in trouble.  They'll even kill horses. They'll kill chickens, or anything around," he explained.

Wednesday morning, 78-year-old Betty Gerard was stung hundreds of times in her backyard after she was swarmed by bees from a neighbor's property.

Dowdy said any kind of disturbance could have caused the attack.

"Anybody throwing a rock at the hive or any kind of disturbance will disturb the African bees.  They are extremely easy to make mad," he said.

Dowdy said  the backyard breeder whose bees stung the grandmother probably did not have the education or knowledge that his hive had been hijacked by the more vicious honey maker.

"(Hives will) be infiltrated all the time. You have to be on top of it all the time."

According to Dowdy, the key to proper beekeeping is to constantly check on the hives and make sure a coup has not taken place, when the queen is killed by an Africanized one.

"There are a lot of people that just don't know about the African bees at all," said Dowdy.

If it's done properly, the bees should act as sweet as honey.

Dowdy said too many people think beekeeping is an easy profession, but it takes hard work. He is a member of the Beekeepers Association of Central Arizona (BACA), which offers free advice to those who are interested in starting in the business. The next BACA meeting takes place on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at The Valley Garden Center, located at 1809 N. 15th Ave. in Phoenix. 

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