Kevin Wilson: PNT Managing Editor
Late in June, Jene Evans was doing yardwork at her home south of Kenna when a hum changed everything.
“I kept hearing this humming noise, the way electricity lines will hum. It just got louder and more intense,” Evans said. “The air was just black with bees where my patio angles off.”
A few weeks later, a neighbor brought her a newspaper article that said Africanized honey bees have been confirmed in Roosevelt County. A few phone calls and visits later confirmed her house was home to nearly 80,000 Africanized honey bees.
Another local couple believes the bee variety made its way to their house as well, less than two miles north of Portales.
To her knowledge, Donnie Cresap said there are no longer Africanized honey bees at the house where she and her husband reside on N.M. 267, which stretches from Portales to Clovis and passes by Cannon Air Force Base.
For Evans, she’s not so fortunate. Evans said three swarms have been discovered at her home, which adjoins to her mother’s home on the family ranch. While pest control has eliminated most of the bees, she can still hear hundreds at her back door.
“I can’t go out my back door,” Evans said. “I have to go through my mother’s house, out her back door to water (my plants). I just don’t take the chance on disturbing them.”
Africanized honey bees are no different from normal bees in their appearance or their stings. The biggest difference is that Africanized honey bees are much more aggressive when they fear an attack on their group, and anybody caught by a swarm could face numerous stings.
Local beekeeper Bill Moyer said the variety of bees was first discovered in Roosevelt County in the Causey-Lingo area.
The bees attacked residents of the home, Moyer said, in response to the sound of a lawn mower. The bees, Moyer said, judged the sound of the mower as an attack on the colony.
Donnie and David Cresap said they discovered a honeycomb near their roof.
“Everyone I talked to said if they’re regular honey bees,” Donnie Cresap said, “when you go out there with a red light, they don’t do anything.
“They just started bumping my husband all over the place, just trying to warn him to go away. We’re assuming they were Africanized bees.”
Donnie Cresap said she called a family member to spray the area Tuesday night, and she believes the problem has been solved.
“They’re gone, they’re dead,” she said. “I was just shocked to find out these bees were there.”
County officials have said the best action to take is to contact the extension office at 356-4417 if you suspect Africanized honey bees in an area.
Roosevelt County is the 12th county in the state to have the bees.
A report from New Mexico State University said that Africanized honey bees first arrived in the United States in 1990.
The bees were first introduced into Brazil in the 1950s to breed a honey bee that was a better pollinator and honey producer for the tropical area, but the Africanized bees escaped from a breeding facility there. Since then, the bees have become established in most of South America.