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Agriculture Press Release

June 11, 1999

Crawford Announces Destruction of African Bees

FORT LAUDERDALE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today the detection and destruction of a swarm of African bees found at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

"Were pleased that our first line of defense, the reporting of hives and swarms by ships crews and dockworkers, quickly revealed the presence of these swarms before harm came to anyone," Crawford said.

The swarm of African bees sometimes called "killer bees" for their aggressive defense of their hives was found on June 3 attached to a semi-trailer on the ship "Galaxy," from Guatemala, after being reported by the ships crew.

The swarm was collected by inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The bees were submitted for testing by FDACS scientists and Dr. Glenn Hall, associate professor of honeybee genetics with the University of Floridas Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Both confirmed in initial tests that the bees were African in origin, and DNA tests are also being conducted. The swarm was destroyed on site on June 3.

Inspectors this week have placed an additional four bait hives throughout the port. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is about 1/4-mile wide and two miles long, and previously held all of Broward Countys 20 bait hives. African bee swarms have been intercepted six times in the past 12 years at Port Everglades, and the majority have come off of ships from Guatemala, where African bees became established in 1985.

About 500 bait hives are in place throughout the state for the detection of African bees, primarily in port areas, along Interstate-10, and on the Florida/Alabama border. The African bee detection program is jointly operated by FDACS and the USDA.

Agriculture inspectors will be checking all known managed bee hives in the Fort Lauderdale area, and officials request that any citizens in the area who either keep bees or may have seen wild bee nests to please contact Laurence Cutts, of the Division of Plant Industry, in Gainesville at (352) 372-3505, extension 128.

On April 23, 1999, two swarms of African bees were found on Blount Island in Jacksonville and destroyed. There has been no change in the eastward movement of African bees in the United States in nearly four years they remain just south of Houston, Texas, and range as far west as California.

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For more information:

Laurence Cutts
(352) 372-3505 x 128


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