Official: Africanized bees will eventually kill in Nevada

CARSON CITY - Africanized bees will sting more southern Nevadans and eventually kill someone in Nevada, the state's agriculture head has told a legislative panel.

Agriculture Director Paul Iverson says the bees are hybridizing with honeybees and eventually will move into the colder northern Nevada climate.

''This is a problem that will not go away,'' Iverson told the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee on Thursday.

Iverson briefed legislators on his agency's efforts to protect southern Nevadans from the bees during discussion of the case of a woman stung more than 500 times last month in Las Vegas.

Toha Bergerub, 77, has recovered from the stings, as has a 79-year old Las Vegas man who was stung repeatedly by the bees in February.

The bees have killed at least six people in the United States since they moved across the border from Mexico in 1990. Africanized bees entered southern Nevada in 1998 and have moved as far north as Amargosa Valley. They also now are found in Mesquite.

''We will never destroy all the Africanized bees,'' Iverson said. ''We are going to get someone killed, no question about it.''

Iverson's agency has $10,000 to help with the Africanized bee problems and expects local governments might put up more money to set up a safety program.

He envisions a system whereby residents could call 911, and a pest control company automatically would be directed to the call area. State or local governments would pay the extermination costs. Pest control companies would be assigned to bee calls on a rotating basis.

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, said he expects the bees will reach the Reno-Carson City area in two years, and Iverson said that's possible.

While it was once thought that Africanized bees couldn't survive in a cold climate, Iverson said the bees are becoming more tolerant of the cold as they breed with honeybees.

''They could come up here now, it's warm enough, although we think they would die off in the winter,'' he said. ''All it would take for them to stay is to find a warm place, like in a casino sign, to spend the winter.''


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment