Africanized honey bees have arrived in Arizona. Schools may want to take a few precautions to help protect their students. The following are some guidelines for planning for Africanized honey bee safety on and around campus.
1. Designate a school monitor to walk around school grounds daily to look for Africanized honey bee colonies or swarms. Make sure the monitor is trained to recognize honey bees and is properly equipped (has a bee veil available).
The monitor should look for sites that may be attractive to bees for nesting, and report to maintenance to remove, cover or repair them. The monitor should remember that honey bees may nest in a variey of sites, ranging from animal burrows in the ground, to hollows in block walls, or over-turned flower pots. Utility boxes, water or irrigation valve boxes, playground equipment, and drainage pipes are also possibilities. Private property around the school may need to be examined as well, particularly lots or vacant buildings that may be high traffic areas for students arriving at or leaving from school.
Keep holes in the ground filled, cover water valve boxes, rain spouts, etc. with #7 mesh or finer screen. Fill or caulk holes that may give bees access to an internal cavity. Bees may enter a hole as small as a pencil eraser (3/16" in diameter).
2. If the monitor finds a honey bee swarm or colony, he or she should notify all teachers to keep everyone away from the area. Arrange to have swarms or colonies remove and/or destroyed immediately, even if they haven't been a problem in the past. School administrators may want to look in the Yellow Pages under bee removal or pest control for bee removal services. Some monitors may be able to remove swarms if properly trained.
Do not allow anyone to try to remove an established colony unless they are a licensed professional pest control operator or bee keeper. Do not allow untrained individuals to spray the colony with pesticides or dump kerosene on the bees. This will only arouse the bees and make them defensive.
3. Plan to use noisy equipment, such as lawn mowers, when students are indoors or away from campus, if possible.
Bees are alarmed by vibrations or loud noises produced by equipment such as weed eaters, chainsaws, or electric generators. Honey bees may also be disturbed by strong odors, such as the odor of newly-mown grass. Thus, bees are often aroused during landscape maintenance operations.
4. Establish a plan of action for a stinging incident.
Teach students to leave bees alone, and if they find a bee nest, not to throw rocks at or otherwise disturb it. If students do accidentally arouse an Africanized honey bee colony while at school, they should know what to do.
Encourage the students to run indoors if stung. A few bees will follow them indoors. However, if they run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows.
Call 911 or local emergency service personnel. They have been trained to respond to Africanized honey bee emergencies.
Designate an area away from classrooms (preferably a large, well-lit room with high ceilings, such as the cafeteria or gym) where students should go. Have a trained person available there or nearby with vacuum cleaner hose on hand to immediately remove any bees that remain. If no hose is available, bees may be killed with soap and water solution (3% to 6% soap) in a spray bottle. The nurse should also be nearby to take care of stinging victims.
Teachers should be trained in the proper method of removing stingers. Honey bees leave their stinger in the skin when they sting. This kills the honey bee, so it can't sting again, but it also means that venom continues to be pumped into the wound for a short time. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or fingers, because it will squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape them out using a finger nail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edge object.
5. Make sure the school nurse is ready.
The school nurse should know the proper way to remove bee stingers and train others. He or she should also know the signs of allergic reactions, because even one bee sting may be fatal if the victim is allergic. If possible have an anaphylactic kit, bee suit and bee veil available for emergencies.
6. Educate the students and faculty about what is being done, and reassure them that most people will never encounter Afracized honey bees and those that do are rarely seriously injured. Have "bee drills" so students know where to go and what to do.