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Bees buzz about midtown

Folks are warned to bee careful, as the bees are back in town.

Tucson in late May and early June is prime time for the Africanized bee, also known as “killer bees,” for very good reason. They are aggressive and cranky, not to mention sometimes lethal.

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The latest has been a swarm sighted in a Sam Hughes yard. The resident said thousands of the cranky critters attacked the maintenance man and then stung the exterminator some 40 times through his clothing.

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Facts from Insecta-Inspecta.com:

The new hybrid, called an Africanized bee, took many years to establish colonies throughout South and Central America. The bee is aggressive, easily agitated, and generally has a bad attitude. The first Africanized bee was found in the United States in October 1990, in a southern area of Texas. The Africanized bee is expected to spread across the southern part of the country, where the winters aren’t so harsh. Some scientists and entomologists believe that the Africanized bees will be able to adapt to colder weather and roam as far north as Montana. If this projection is true, it could become a big problem for a number of reasons in the United States.

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This is not the first time bees have bumbled around town with disastrous results, as evidenced in this May 2008 story:

Couple cites vacant home in fatal bee attack on dog
By Ryn Gargulinski

The foreclosed Northwest Side home next door to Brandi and John Comeau is more than an eyesore.

The couple said it led to their dog’s death.

The property, directly east of their home in the 5100 block of West Albatross Place, has sat vacant for about a year. For about the last month, the home has been infested with two large bee nests, said Brandi Comeau, 27.

She came home Tuesday afternoon and found that a massive swarm had left the hives to attack the Comeaus’ dog, 3-year-old, three-legged Chihuahua Stubby. The dog was born with three legs.

“I saw my dog being attacked through the sliding glass window,” she said. “I tried to do what I could, threw water on him, without getting stung myself.”

Her husband grabbed Stubby and ran down the street, trying to dislodge the bees. By the time the couple got Stubby to the vet, the dog was stung more than 250 times.

Initially the vet stabilized the petite pooch.

“The vet’s office called around 10:30 p.m. and said his organs were shutting down,” she said.

John Comeau, 26, went to bid the dog farewell for his wife and their 11-month-old son, Bradyn.

“I feel very concerned for my son’s safety,” the young mother said. “We can’t feel comfortable at all.”

She said the bees started attacking neighborhood dogs after an official from the Tucson Country Crossing Homeowners Association began spraying the nests with an insecticide.

“They were swarming around agitated,” Brandi Comeau said.

Stubby was the only dog who died in the attack.

The bees were still swarming Wednesday afternoon, she said, but it appeared a property manager was on the property.

“Unattended homes are always an issue,” said Rick Hodges, chief executive of the Tucson Association of Realtors. “They were an issue two years ago when there were investors’ homes on the market and are an issue today with rental homes on the market.”

The large number of foreclosures doesn’t help the matter.

The online foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac reported 4,471 foreclosure filings in 2007. Not all filings end in foreclosure or result in a house sitting vacant for an extended period.

Health risks can include infestations of vermin and mosquitoes breeding around unattended swimming pools.

“Bugs and critters don’t respect property lines,” Hodges said.

Liability lies with the home’s owner, he said, which in the case of foreclosures is usually a bank.

He said real estate agents who represent a property are trying to sell it and may keep the property in better shape than one sitting abandoned.

The property directly east of the Comeaus’ is owned by the Michigan-based Jaguar Associated Group LLC, according to the Pima County Assessor’s Office. No one at the group could be reached for comment.

Comeau said she and her husband will discuss whether to present part of the $800 vet’s bill to the homeowners’ association, which did the spraying. No one at the association returned calls for comment.

“I want people to be wary of empty houses for their own safety,” Comeau said. “I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”

This year has been predicted to be a record year for the bee population, according to bee experts.

beedead

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Bees Dos and Don’ts:

Don’t bang on the hive with a crowbar or stick it with a stick.

Don’t let your pets near them.

Don’t get drunk and brag how you can stick your face in the hive with no ill effects

Don’t stick your face in the hive while sober, either

Don’t try to blow them up with hairspray and a lighter

Do call a professional to come eradicate the beastly little buggers

More from Insecta-Inspecta.com:

An extremely aggressive Africanized bee colony may attack any ‘threat’ within 100 feet and pursue for up to one-fourth a mile. Generally, Africanized bees attack:

· only when the colony is threatened

· when loud noises, strong odors or fragrances, shiny jewelry, and dark clothes are perceived as threats

· the face and ankles

What to do if attacked:

· Africanized bees are slow fliers and most healthy people can out run them.

· Run away in a straight line, protecting your face. Avoid other people, or they too will be attacked.

· Do not try and hide underwater. The Africanized bee swarm will wait for you to surface.

· Seek medical attention. Some people are allergic to bee stings causing anaphylactic shock. Since Africanized bees attack and sting in great numbers, it is possible that an allergic response may be triggered.

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Lost cucumber found mutilated

A cucumber that mysteriously disappeared out of my Sunday evening grocery haul surfaced Monday morning, much worse for the wear.

Seems my dog Saywer found the thing, who knows where, and likened it to a bone or chew toy.

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At least his mutilation of the cucumber was not as destructive as the times he ate my cell phone and walking shoes. A past dog of mine ate a tube of sunblock and book about the devil. One of my rats, who romped through my apartment sans cage, chewed a hole through the arm of my leather jacket.

The cucumber seems quite tame, especially since it is not known to be harmful to dogs, unlike raisins, onions or chewing gum.

Perhaps Sawyer needed more greens in his diet.

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What’s the weirdest thing your pet ever chewed up, destroyed or ate?
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Scowl for the camera

Don’t smile for the camera if you’re getting a driver’s license photo in one of the four states that ban grins from such pictures, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star.

The states are Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia.

The report mentions that the states’ identification software works better if people are lacking expression in the photos. But we think otherwise.

It’s probably because most people aren’t smiling when they get pulled over. Perhaps folks should be asked to scowl for the camera when getting their driver’s license photos taken.

scowl1Other photos in which people should not be smiling:

• Mug shots

• Photos taken at funeral homes*

• Tragic scenes of car crashes, drownings, fires

• Shots depicting murder or mayhem (unless the one smiling is the psychotic killer)

• Anything at airports unless the shot includes long lost lovers, friends or family members being reunited

*I learned the funeral home lesson the hard way when I profiled a pet funeral home in Brooklyn, All Pets Go To Heaven, and came back with a stack of photos of the owners standing around a dog casket grinning. There was no dog inside, but my editor chided me nonetheless for asking the funeral directors to smile. “Ryn, no one smiles at a funeral.”

Have you ever smiled, laughed or displayed inappropriate humor at an inappropriate time?

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