New Mexico beekeepers weigh in on ‘murder hornets’ and preparations to keep bees safe

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The world’s largest wasp, nicknamed the “murder hornet,” has arrived in the U.S. — but could it make its way here to New Mexico? Some local beekeepers say it could, but not for a long time.

New Mexico’s honeybees are no strangers to survival.

“Since the ’80s, we’ve had problems with bees dying because they’ve been infested and overtaken by the mites,” said Lu Lu Sage, a local beekeeper with ABQ Beeks. “Because of climate change, we’re having more droughts and plants that would be blooming, if there’s no water or rain, there’s no plants, food for them.”

America’s newest arrival is the Asian Giant Hornet, nicknamed the “murder hornet.” Sage says it would be hard for bees to survive an attack.

“If they get into a hive, they can,” said Sage. “They can kill off the bees.”

Scientists say the hornets — which can get up to two inches long — are only in the Pacific Northwest right now in Washington state and Canada. They say the hornets may have accidentally arrived in a shipping container.

“The hornets that are coming here, they’re not here in New Mexico,” said Sage. “They’re way up there and they’re trying to do everything up in Washington State and Canada, they’re trying to eradicate them.”

The giant hornets tend to eat honeybees and within hours, a small group can demolish a hive. In their native Asia, some bees have learned to fight back.

“They have co-evolved,” said Sage. “The honeybees there have figured out a way to kill them as soon as they get into the hive.”

However, the honeybees here have no coexistence and could be greatly impacted by a hornet attack. Sage says they can eventually adapt but there will first be a cost.

“Honeybees are extremely adaptive, but there’s going to be a learning curve for them and for humans,” said Sage. “Once you open that Pandora’s Box and you introduce something, it’s going to eventually invade this whole country but I think they’re going to try and do everything they can.”

In the meantime, experts in Washington are trying to stop the hornets from flying any further. They are trapping them and eradicating their nests. Although the bugs have toxic venom and longer stingers, very few humans die from it. The hornets mostly kill bees.

To help your local bee population thrive, Sage says there’s a number of things you can do while at home right now. She suggests not using pesticides and herbicides, as well as adding more native plants and wildflowers to your gardens.

Sage says it’s also ‘swarm season’ so if you have a honeybee colony swarming in your tree, around your home, or even on your car, you can request removal by calling 311 or contacting Albuquerque beekeepers through their official ABQ Beeks website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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