Scientists from Clemson University came to the conclusion that the bees which attacked South Carolina were not African after all.
A hive of aggressive Africanized bees was found near Charleston in May. People became concerned because these bees attack even without being provoked. Worse, some people throughout the world even died after they were stung many times.
But it seems that the hive found near Charleston was not filled with Africanized bees but with a less aggressive European subspecies. The university announced Tuesday that initial lab results were not right.
Some samples were taken in May from the hive and sent to Florida and Arizona labs which established that there was between 93 percent to 95 percent chance that the bees came from an African strain. These bees were first found in Central American, and then they moved to South and North, but not in South Carolina.
The last killer bee report from South Carolina was in 2001. The primary concern of the experts is that Africanized bees might start breeding with European bees. If this happens, a more aggressive strain will develop that will devastate the United States.
According to Mike Weyman, regulatory services Clemson’s deputy director, residents were warned in May, even before lab results came out, to raise awareness about the threat posed by those aggressive bees. At that time, several people and a beekeeper had already been attacked.
Then the hive was destroyed, and samples were taken to Florida and Arizona labs to determine the subspecies. Even if the bees were not from an African strain, they were too aggressive, so authorities had to take active measures as soon as possible to protect residents and animals.
According to Brad Cavin, bee researcher from Clemson, other lab results in the past have been correct without the need of other future tests. Cavin has been sending bee samples for four years but never has he seen such a turn of events until now.
There are 30,000 honeybee colonies in South Carolina and 2,500 beekeepers. Thanks to these colonies the beekeepers benefit from 1.2 million pounds of surplus honey every year. Also, these honeybees pollinate all crops, plants, trees, and gardens as they are the top pollinators in the world.
The United States pollinated crops provide the economy over $15 billion every year. Regarding the aggressive beehive from South Carolina, it was hard to establish whether they were African or not, because there are 28 subspecies of hybrid bees.