Published on 09/27/06

Georgia EMS workers prepare for killer bees

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

As Africanized bees, sometimes called killer bees, approach Georgia's borders, University of Georgia experts are helping emergency response workers be ready to respond to a victim's needs.

UGA Cooperative Extension entomologist Keith Delaplane is working with Georgia Farm Bureau to train emergency medical response workers know what to do when they get a distress call.

"The first line of attack are the emergency responders, since the general man on the street will punch 9-1-1," Delaplane said. "So EMS workers need to know first and foremost how to address an attack."

Training in Macon

EMS workers can attend a special training Nov. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Georgia Farm Bureau headquarters in Macon, Ga. This training is geared toward EMTs, municipal agencies and beekeepers.

"Our goal is to give an overview of the biology, history and present distribution of Africanized honeybees," Delaplane said. "We want to give practical advice for beekeepers, emergency responders and ordinary citizens."

Africanized honeybees have been documented in Florida since 2002. "We know eventually they will move our way," Delaplane said. "It's important that we get solid information in the hands of as many community leaders as possible in anticipation of the arrival of Africanized bees in our state. It's a matter of hoping for the best, but planning for the worst."

How to get there

For directions to Georgia Farm Bureau building, check online at ap.html. For more information on Africanized honeybees, download the UGA Extension bulletin at www.en Or call your county Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Some beekeepers are already becoming specialized at removing the more aggressive Africanized bee swarms. And that's important.

"We don't have a pest control industry that's plugged into the problem," Delaplane said. "An attack is a problem for EMS, but if a colony has moved in and is confirmed to be African, that's a problem for a pest control service. By and large, pest control companies don't want to deal with it and consider it a hyperspecialty that's outside their work."

Delaplane would like to change that.

"I'd like to cross-train the industry, but we've not had a lot of interest," he said. "We have had a small cadre of beekeepers who are looking at going into bee removal. There will be more demand for this special skill set that general pest control workers won't have special training for. You have to remove the hive in a wall, not just spray, so you have to have some carpentry skills, too."

(Faith Peppers is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.