It’s still unclear if the honey bees were Africanized.
Samples of the bees have been sent to an entomologist in Salt Lake City to be tested by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to find out the species.
“They are sending samples off to do a DNA analysis on them to confirm whether or not they were Africanized,” said Washington County Bee Inspector Casey Lofthouse.
“At this point, we haven’t had any confirmed stinging incidents where it was a confirmed Africanized honey bee in Utah. But we do have confirmed Africanized colonies and feral colonies here.”
Meanwhile, the St. George Fire Department responded to a report of bees swarming in some trees at the Ledges Parkway in north St. George Monday afternoon. The bees were not harming anyone so they left them alone.
Lofthouse, also local beekeeper, said he isn’t too concerned about his bees mixing with the Africanized honey bees that may have migrated into the area.
Lofthouse said he believes Africanized bees were first introduced during a breeding program in South America. The story is that about 20 of them escaped, colonizing in the jungle, slowly moving north, into Mexico and North America. However he said they are not known to like colder weather so they haven’t traveled much further north since they were discovered here in St. George in 2009. Lofthouse said commercial producers in Mexico and Texas have learned how to deal with them, but they are more aggressive.
Lofthouse suggests to turn to the The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food’s website for information on how to 'bee' proof your home and property as well as honey bee safety.
For more information go to the Department of Agriculture and Food at their website; ag.utah.gov