If you're on campus when a host of beekeepers swarm Utah State University for their annual convention Aug. 20-23, you'll hear about wild honeybees, Africanized bees, but no mention of any killers.
"Killer bee is a term coined by the press," said William P.Nye, collaborator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service at USU.
He said referring to these wild honeybees as killers tends to label them worse villains than they deserve.
"We don't like to use that term primarily because they are still honeybees - only different," he said. "They are just more prone to sting in larger numbers."
The Africanized bees were released accidentally in South America by a researcher during the 1950s. They have been slowly migrating toward the United States since that time. They were first identified in Texas about a year ago.
A research paper will discuss the population dynamics of wild honeybees as related to the process of Africanization during the opening session of the two-day convention in the Eccles Conference Center. The paper will be delivered by Anita M. Collins, honey bee researcher with the Southern Agricultural Research Laboratory in Weslaco, Texas.
More than 100 bee enthusiasts from the western region are expected to attend the 14th annual bee conference, sponsored by the Western Apiculture Society. Those who attend range in interests from hobbyists to commercial beekeepers and researchers, Nye said.
The convention this year will include information on bee-swarm behavior and ways to control swarms. It will feature workshops, including a stop at the USDA's bee lab, which houses one of the largest stinging wasp collections in the world, he said.
Nye said there will be demonstrations on ways to reduce sting hazards as well as techniques for finding the queen in the two-queen colony system. There will also be demonstrations on how to transfer honey from a comb to a jar, how to make beeswax foundation candles, and what to look for when identifying a honeybee parasite, the varroa mite.
Total cost of the convention, not including meals or housing, is $40. A $15 late registration fee is added after July 10. A preregistration form and program can be obtained by writing or calling Nye, president, Western Apiculture Society, USU Biology Department, Logan, UT 84322-5305. You can reach him at (801) 750-2524.