By Thomas Garcia, PNT Staff Reporter
A portion of the Portales Medical Clinic at 320 South Ave. — including the main entrance — was closed about 8 a.m. today after a colony of bees was discovered, according to officials.
Officials are concerned the insects could be Africanized honey bees, although that has not been confirmed, according to Lewis Hightower, owner of Southwest Pest Control.
Encounters with a swarm of Africanized bees can be deadly, according to officials.
Clinic office manager Leisha Beickham said patients of the clinic were contacted Monday morning and told of the situation. The patients were asked to use a side entrance.
Clinic staff members discovered the colony of bees near the entranceway.
“The bees were found on the porch entering into a pillar,” Beickham said. “The entrance has been closed off along with the front portion of the office.”
Hightower said workers from his company will attempt to remove the bees around 4:45 p.m. today.
The police will be patrolling the area to make sure that no pedestrians are walking in that area when the swarm is contacted, Hightower said.
“The location of this swarm increases the danger,” Hightower said. “Agitating the swarm is a major concern with the swarm located inside town.”
Hightower said if the Africanized bees are agitated they will defend their hive and attack anything that moves within a half-mile radius.
“The bees will attack the face first, concentrating on the eyes, mouth and nose,” Hightower said.
The bees cannot be distinguished from the less aggressive European honey bee until they are agitated, Hightower said.
Hightower said the colony at the clinic could be the same colony that was reported a few days ago on the south side of Portales.
There is a 99 percent chance that these bees are collecting honey looking to make a home and will be docile, according to Hightower said. This will lessen the chance of them swarming but there is always that 1 percent chance they would attack, Hightower said.