Bees buzzin’ again

By Tony Parra

Temperatures are warming and flowers will bloom soon. ’Tis the season to beware of bees in Roosevelt County.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officers responded to a call about bees at a residence on the 1700 block of South Avenue B on Tuesday. He said officers confirmed bees were on the property and notified exterminators from Southwest Pest Control.

Lewis Hightower, co-owner of Southwest Pest Control, said he could not share details about the incident, but said there was no emergency.

He did say bee season is upon us.

Bees are not active during cold weather, but once flowers begin to bloom, they go in search of food. Hightower said European honey bees, the region’s most common variety, are typically not aggressive. Africanized bees, however, can be a problem.

Last year, Jene Evans of Kenna found nearly 80,000 Africanized honey bees at her home.

Last September, Roosevelt County’s agricultural extension agent reported he’d received an unusual amount of calls about bees.

Extension Agent Floyd McAlister said an Eastern New Mexico University worker was stung 30 times by bees while he was working at the Lewis Cooper Rodeo Arena.

A report from New Mexico State University said Africanized honey bees first arrived in the United States in 1990.

“More swarms started moving into our territory last year,” Hightower said.

Southwest Pest Control has workers in Roswell, Portales, Clovis, Alamogordo, Las Cruces, Truth or Consequences and Hobbs. “We don’t know how (bee problems) will be this year, but we have a feeling (they) might not be real good,” he said.

Hightower said his concern is due to the swarms moving into Chaves and Roosevelt counties last year. Hightower said once Africanized bees are established in an area, the only way to get rid of them is to kill them.

Two years ago, he said, his company received two or three calls in all of southeast New Mexico related to Africanized bees.

“Last year we received 22 calls in one month towards the end of the summer,” he said.

Terry Teti, executive director of Community Resources Inc. in Portales, said some of the bees captured are sent for study at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz., and the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service in Las Cruces.

Teti said she and Roosevelt County Health Council members are in the process of getting together town hall meetings to inform residents about bees and what to do when a swarm is found. Teti said her fear is children being stung by bees.