Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Close encounters with “Killer Bees” in Ecuador

21 May, 2010 - 14:31 -- World Land Trust
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Student after attack from Killer Bees

One of the students after the bee attack.

Massive swarms of Africanized honey bees Apis mellifera scutellata (commonly known as ‘killer bees’) attacked a team of 18 biology students and professors returning from an expedition to the Río Zuñac Reserve, Ecuador. Lou Jost of Fundación EcoMinga, World Land Trust Ecuadorian partners reports: ‘’We were returning home from a beautiful trip, when the students were attacked by clouds of killer bees. They ran screaming in terror down the mountain, but the bees followed, and the students had to run more than a kilometer before the bees stopped attacking.’’ Although the students were left traumatised, thankfully they were able to escape with only a few stings. Lou and his team at EcoMinga have come into contact with Africanized honey bees before and their presence is recognised as being a much broader problem across Ecuador, and indeed in many other countries. The bees are non-native to Ecuador, a hybrid created between the European and African honey bees. Lou thinks that they must use resources from native bees and have an effect on orchids and other flowers that rely on the native bees for pollination. So for both human safety and ecosystem preservation, Lou believes that it is important that an ecologically sensitive way is found to eliminate these Africanized honeybees. Killer bees have also become a problem on the WLT webcam in Ecuador. Swarms of bees are often seen invading the hummingbird feeder and ideas to discourage the bees from using the feeder are currently being explored. Luciano Breves, the creator of the Atlantic Rainforest webcam in Brazil, has told us that in Brazil the use of oil on the feeders has helped deter bees from using them but does not affect the hummingbirds visiting. Another possibility is using a lower concentration of sugar water to fill the feeders, as bees seem to prefer a higher sugar to water concentration. Learn more about the Ecuador Rainforest Project »

Comments

Submitted by Eileen on

I just looked at the webcam and I saw no bees, for a change – but it is raining. Maybe they don’t like rain.

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