A push-pull, intergrated pest management scheme for the protection of barn owl nest boxes and sugarcane workers from invasive Africanized honey bees

Monday, November 17, 2014: 11:24 AM
B117-119 (Oregon Convention Center)
Caroline Efstathion , Department of Entomology & Nematology, University of Florida, Davie, FL
Bill Kern , University of Florida, Davie, FL
Richard Raid , Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Belle Glade, FL
Africanized honey bees (AHB) have steadily invaded the whole of tropical South America since the introduction of 17 bee queens near Sao Paolo Brazil in 1957.  By the mid 1990s, Africanized bees became established in the southwestern states of the U.S. and in Florida.  Although all honey bees are nonnative in the new world, the African subspecies has presented a specific challenge to beekeepers and endemic wildlife because it is far more aggressive and reproduces at a higher rate resulting in negative consequences.

Invasive AHB are threatening a biological rodent control project in the sugar cane fields of Southern Florida.  These bees are competing with Barn Owls for their nest boxes, often excluding or killing the owls.  In addition, the increasing bee population is putting cane workers in danger.  Bee colonies are often agitated by vibrations, the same vibrations that farm equipment causes.  This in combination with often unlikely or obscured nesting sites, for example, culverts, puts unaware cane workers at risk of attack.

       We have developed a push-pull integrated pest management protocol to deter bees from inhabiting owl boxes by applying a bird safe insecticide, permethrin, while simultaneously attracting them to pheromone-baited swarm traps.  These swarm traps are highly visible and located eight feet off the ground thereby reducing conflict with sugar cane workers.   These bee traps are monitored weekly and swarms are removed.  The use of highly visible bee traps located off the ground will reduce the likelihood of workers being attacked by defensive bee colonies and could ultimately save lives.  This study also serves as a model for developing a field protocol for use in the Neotropics were many endangered cavity-nesting birds are adversely affected by AHB.