Schools may want to take several precautions to help protect their students. The following are some guidelines for planning for Africanized honey bee safety on and around campus.
1. Designate a school monitor to walk around school grounds daily to look for African honey bee colonies or swarms. Make sure the monitor is trained to recognize Domestic Bees and is properly equipped (has a bee veil available).
The monitor should look for sites that may be attractive to bees for nesting, and report to maintenance to remove, cover or repair them. The monitor should remember that Domestic Bees may nest in a variey of sites, ranging from animal burrows in the ground, to hollows in block walls, or over-turned flower pots. Utility boxes, water or irrigation valve boxes, playground equipment, and drainage pipes are also possibilities. Private property around the school may need to be evaluated as well, in particular lots or vacant buildings that may be high traffic areas for students arriving at or leaving from school.
Make|Be} sure to keep holes in the ground filled, cover water valve boxes, rain spouts, etc. with #7 mesh or finer screen. Make|Be} sure to fill or caulk holes that may give bees access to an internal cavity. Bees may enter a hole as small as a pencil eraser (3/16″ in diameter).
2. If the monitor finds a Domestic Honey Bee swarm or colony, he or she should notify all teachers to keep everyone away from the area. Arrange to have swarms or colonies remove and/or destroyed immediately, even when they haven’t been a problem in the past. School administrators may want to look in the Yellow Pages under bee removal or pest control for bee removal services. Some monitors could be able to remove swarms when properly trained.
Don’t allow whoever to attempt to remove an established colony unless they are a certified professional pest control operator or bee keeper. Don’t allow untrained person to spray the honey bee colony with pesticides or dump kerosene on the bees. This will only arouse the bees and make them defensive.
3. Plan to use noisy equipment, such as lawn mowers, when students are indoors or away from campus, if possible.
Bees are alarmed by vibrations or loud noises produced by equipment such as weed eaters, chainsaws, or electric generators. Domestic Bees might also be disturbed by strong odors, such as the odor of newly-mown grass. As a result, bees are often aroused during landscape maintenance operations.
4. Establish a plan of action for a stinging incident.
Teach students to leave bees alone, and when they find a bee nest, not to throw rocks at or otherwise disturb it. When students do accidentally arouse an African honey bee colony while at school, they should know what to do.
Be certain to encourage the students to run indoors if stung. Several bees will follow them indoors. Notwithstanding, if they run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows.
Call 911 or local emergency service personnel. They have been trained to respond to African honey bee emergencies.
Designate an area away from classrooms (preferably a large, well-lit room with high ceilings, like the cafeteria or gym) where students should go. Have a trained individuals available there or nearby with vacuum cleaner hose on hand to immediately remove any bees that remain. If no hose is available, bees could be killed with soap and water solution (3 percent to 6 percent soap) in a spray bottle. The nurse should also be nearby to take care of stinging victims.
Teachers ought to be trained in the proper method of removing stingers. Domestic Bees leave their stinger in the skin when they sting. This kills the Domestic Bee, so it cannot sting again, but it also means that venom continues to be pumped into the wound for a short time. Never pull stingers out with tweezers or fingers, because it will squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape them out using a finger nail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edge object.
5. Be sure the school nurse is ready.
The school nurse ought to know the proper way to remove bee stingers and train others. He or she should also know the signs of allergic reactions, because even one bee sting could be fatal when the victim is allergic. If possible have an anaphylactic kit, bee suit and bee veil available for emergencies.
6. Educate the students and faculty about what’s being done, and reassure them that most people will never encounter Afracized Domestic Bees and those that do are rarely seriously injured. Have “bee drills” so students know where to go and what to do.