BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Some reports have raised alarm about what the introduction of so-called "murder hornets" could mean for bee populations. But what does a local beekeeper think?
“To me at this point no. Until I actually see one here in California, I’m not going to waste my time worrying about that," Dane Kuntz, CEO, Bee Keeper at Kuntz Family Farms, a local honey farm.
Kuntz says the giant Asian hornets making frightening headlines all week is not something he’s worried about. The hornets were found last weekend in Washington state, and although they aren’t big killers of humans, they do decapitate large hives of honey bees in an effort to feed their own young. Thus the name murder hornets. The Washington Department of Agriculture said the bug is often found between temperate and tropical climates in Japan.
“I don’t think we have the climate for them to thrive even if somehow someway they made it here I don't think it would be something that would widely spread," Kuntz said.
Kuntz says if anything is the real threat to bees in the area, it’s the Varroa Mite, a parasite that feeds off of honey bees.
"They can wipe out a hive faster than anything else I've ever seen and I've spent so much time, energy, and money on that pest alone," he said.
Even though the University of Florida says the Varroa Mite is the world’s most devastating pest of western honey bees, steps are still being taken to eradicate the new hornets. The Washington Department of Agriculture says she elimination of the species focuses on trapping and killing queens.