Killer Bees in Panama and Why Monsanto Sucks

Yes that’s right folks! Killer Bees are panama killer bees
in Panama and have been for a long time. Africanas as they are called here are seen quite often. The local fire station here in Pedasi makes on average a couple of trips a week responding to calls of Africanas colonizing in roofs, electricity transformers, old buildings and in tree trunks.

We recently had killer bees colonizing between roof tiles and the ceiling at Pucha’s guest house. The fire department had to make two trips to finally get them out of there. Unfortunately, the only way to force them on their way was by showering them with a powder ant killer called Ormitox. Ormi as in Ormiga (ant), tox as in toxic.  I go out of my way to not kill insects unless totally necessary, I feel that everything has a purpose here on this earth, including hybrid insects with the nickname killer! But, killer bees making honey above our head is a little more than can be allowed. They had to move on.

Many times while working on my project in Ojo de Agua during the dry season when many trees are in bloom I have had to duck as a swarm of killer bees fly over. They are not known to attack while heading from tree to tree for nectar, but it’s instinctive to hit the deck when a flying squadron of potential pain (or death) inflicting sugar lovers pass overhead. Though they are all over the Americas and very well established here in Panama, I have only heard of a couple of cases of people being attacked and it is always the same scenario. Someone cuts down a tree or pushes over an old rotten trunk with a tractor, stirring up the unknown, hidden hive and the Africanas come out in attack mode.

Just by coincidence, shortly after the killer bees set up shop at our house I sold my car to a local bee keeper from Chitre. His preferred bee – Las Africanas. He told me the first thing he did to my old Nissan Pathfinder was repair the AC so he could place bee hives in the back to move them around. Apparently the cold air conditioner calms them down for transport. Imagine riding around in a car with a hive of Killer Bees 4 feet away! He does this with out his protective bee keeper suit!

The beekeeper is always looking for new places to set up hives for honey production, he prefers areas near forest because the honey is better tasting from tree blooms. He’s interested in Ojo de Agua. I may have to talk to the neighbors about that. Anyways, I got a tour of one of his hive areas that is just outside of Chitre. Along the way we were discussing the economics of honey production and he explained how he use to rent the hives for pollination of  large agriculture crops. He said the pay was great, but presumedly due to the pesticides, that nearly 90% of the colony died after pollinating for big ag!

There is no doubt that in the Americas and in Europe there is a bee die off. Anyone can Google and find hundreds of articles about studies confirming this phenomena. I am sure there are many other factors causing colony collapse. But I can say with out a doubt that here in Panama it is obvious that chemicals, probably Glyphosate (the main herbicide in Monsanto’s Round-Up) which is sprayed heavily here, is affecting the bee population. There is a recent study about how Glyphosate inhibits natural detoxification of human cells.

As I write this Im reminded that today is the International March Against Monsanto. So remember, give the finger to Monsanto and be careful in Panama before you knock over that old tree!

Charlie