'Killer bees' in South Carolina put local experts on alert

Local experts are keeping their eye on the discovery of "killer bees" in Charleston, South Carolina.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- African Killer Bees have been found in South Carolina for the first time in 15 years.  

The discover in Charleston has put bee experts in our area on alert.

"Bees are very important to our welfare," said UNCC Professor Dr. Stan Schneider.  

Schneider says to the naked eye, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between African honey bees and the honey bees common to our area.  However, he says there is a big, even deadly, difference to the way they behave when they feel threatened or their nest is disturbed.  While rare, he says the African Bees can have a massive sting response to a perceived threat.

"Hundreds of times, maybe even thousands of times and there is just a limit to what the human body can take," he said. "The African bee is no more poisonous than the honey bees we are used to, it is just more of them will sting at once," Schneider explained.

He says this is why it is so important to identify and eliminate these bees. South Carolina state officials have destroyed the African killer bee colony in Charleston.  They are now searching hives within a two-mile radius for Africanized bees.  The bee keeper that made the discovery was stung several times, but was not seriously injured. 

Dr. Schneider says it isn't uncommon for these bees to show up in coastal cities like Charleston, arriving via ship. However, he says there is no threat to the public at this point.

"I don't know that we should be concerned about the African honey bee, we just need to be vigilant," he declared. "We need to be aware that it's now in Florida, there is a very high likelihood that it will move into the Carolinas and we need to be ready for it."

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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