Iowa beekeepers are carefully watching the news from Oklahoma, where a swarm of feisty bees attacked a work crew earlier this month, sending seven men to the hospital. Some fear they’re so-called “killer bees” and Cedar Rapids beekeeper Russ Swenson says that would be the farthest north the angry insects have migrated.Swenson says there’s a good chance this is just a swarm that’s moved into Oklahoma and the winter weather conditions will “take care of those bees,” meaning, they’ll freeze to death soon enough. The “Africanized” bees are very aggressive and are dangerous in large numbers. Swenson says it’s possible they will reach Iowa eventually, but — just as in Oklahoma — they’d never be able to live here through the harsh, icy cold of winter. Swenson says the bees may look for a new home and can attach themselves in a swarm to a truck or motorized home and suddenly arrive in a completely new area. That may be the case with the Oklahoma bees, which stung some of the workmen up to 40 times. One man said there were just too many bees to outrun. Swenson says it could devastate Iowa’s honey industry if the killer bees ever got a stronghold here. “It’s a big worry to people because they’re a very aggressive bee and we certainly don’t want ’em up here but really there is no evidence that they’re going to be able to survive in the northern area.” Officials say D-N-A tests on the bees show they have Africanized traits. The bees are being sent to a U-S-D-A lab for final confirmation as to whether they’re from the “killer” strain.
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