Bees raise concerns for county officials

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

An unusual amount of buzzing is going on around the county and county officials are receiving many calls about bee problems.

Floyd McAlister, Roosevelt County ag extension agent, reported an unusual amount of calls about bees in Roosevelt County during the county commission meeting on Tuesday morning.

“I know we have received several calls on Africanized bees,” McAlister said. “I have received more calls on bees this summer than any other year in the 20 years that I have been here. The Africanized bees are here and they’re here to stay.”

McAlister said an Eastern New Mexico University worker was stung 30 times by bees while he was working at the Lewis Cooper Rodeo Arena. The Africanized bee species was first discovered in Roosevelt County in the Causey-Lingo area, approximately 30 miles southeast of Portales, in July.

McAlister said he received three calls on Monday about possible Africanized bees. McAlister said nothing about the bees’ appearance alone can determine the difference between an Africanized bee and a European honey bee.

“It’s impossible to tell whether they’re regular bees or Africanized bees,” McAlister said. “We’ve sent six samples to the lab and had one returned. It was an Africanized bee.”

Samples are sent to entomologists at the New Mexico State University Extension office in Las Cruces.

This is a nationwide epidemic. In early August race car driver A.J. Foyt was stung by nearly 200 bees, according to an Associated Press report.

Bee attacks have been reported in Carlsbad, Artesia and Portales this year. Bees attacked three Artesia police officers, one Eddy County Sheriff’s deputy and two civilians on Thursday, according to another AP report.

“They look exactly alike (regular bees and Africanized bees),” McAlister said. “You can only tell by their behavior. They (Africanized bees) are vicious. Africanized bees will go to the head and neck.”

Jene Evans of Kenna found nearly 80,000 bees by her house in late June. In cases where people find bees the best option is to contact the Portales Fire Department at 356-4406 or the extension office at 356-4417 so the problem could be handled properly.

• Sgt. Rick Short, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department, announced there will be an additional 10 Driving While Intoxicated checkpoints in Roosevelt County in the months of October and November.

Short said the department received $1,720 from the New Mexico State Highway Department for the saturation points. According to Short the department conducts two checkpoints each month for a total of 24 in a year. With the additional checkpoints, there will be 34 this year.

• Jesse Luera, Roosevelt County Detention Administrator, said the Quay County Juvenile Detention Center will be closed down as of November 1. Luera said usually about two to six juveniles are transported from Roosevelt County to be housed in the QCJDC.

Luera said the reason QCJDC officials gave was because they were losing money housing juveniles. Operation costs could not be made up in money received for housing juveniles.

Luera said he has been contacting administrators at the Lea County Juvenile Detention Center about transferring juveniles to that location. The cost at the Quay County Juvenile Detention Center to house a juvenile was $85 a day and will be the same at the Lea County Juvenile Detention Center.

He also reported 84 adult inmates at the RCDC, 20 of which are females.