MEMPHIS — The migration of Africanized bees into Tennessee has state agriculture officials and beekeepers on alert.
The first known instance of the more aggressive bees — sometimes called "killer bees"— in Tennessee came last year. State apiarist Mike Studer told The Commercial Appeal an East Tennessee beekeeper had mail-ordered some bees and called the Tennessee Department of Agriculture when they attacked him, stinging him about 30 times before he could get into his vehicle.
Studer said about 17 percent of that colony had been Africanized.
The department will put out an alert if more of the aggressive bees are found and those colonies will be destroyed.
Elke Longsworth keeps bees near Mason in West Tennessee and specializes in breeding queen bees. She said the threat of Africanized bees is one she takes seriously.
"If and when the bees arrive here, I am done," she said. "I will not work with them."
Studer offers advice for anyone attacked by Africanized bees. He said try to quickly get into a vehicle or a building the bees can't get at you.
"Don't swat at them, and don't try to jump into a lake or pool," Studer cautioned. "They'll sit there and wait for you to surface, then go down your throat."
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com