Honey Bee Lab Closes at Texas A&M

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on June 15, 2011

Budget cuts are hitting Extension hard in Texas and other states.  Since 1990, the Honey Bee Identification Lab was the go-to place for finding out if a bee was European or had been Africanized.  When individuals or animals were stung, this is the place samples of the bees in question were sent.

In addition to identifying bees involved in stinging incidents, the lab tracking the spread of the Africanized honey bee in Texas.  All of that wisdom and research has been lost to the budget crisis.

For now, the nearest place to get help with a bee identification is the USDA lab in Weslaco, Texas.  They maintain a Honey Bee Research Unit that identifies the type of bee involved in a stinging incident and studies bees.  It also researches Colony Hive Collapse and various other issues. This means that they are very busy and it will take longer to obtain answers then from the Texas A&M lab.

One thing to remember is the honey bees are an invasive species that colonists brought to the New World from the Old.  There are many native pollinators that can be encouraged to carry on in their absence.  However, because of bees economic importance, it is disturbing to see those labs that study honey bees  being shut down.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia June 18, 2011 at 2:56 am

Hi Stephanie

Wow, you are a wealth of knowledge. Just learnt something new here…didn’t know honey bees had been brought over to your country from Europe.

Sounds like the global economic downturn is still affecting USA big-time. We have been cushioned against it here because of our mining and mineral wealth.

How sad when research places get funding cut and have to close. I have just found out a lady who lives in the same area as me keeps bees and now she sells raw honey through our local hairdressing salon.

I was wondering where I would get it from and now the problem is solved. Was advised this was the only sort I should be using as have a skin condition and anything processed can cause flare-ups.

Hope you are having a good weekend Stephanie. And thanks for the interesting post. Appreciated.

Patricia Perth Australia


Stephanie Suesan Smith June 18, 2011 at 6:39 am

Are there honey bees native to Australia? Or are your bees imported honey bees, too? The Europeans imported them everywhere they went, often causing the native bees to become extinct or severely diminishing their ability to flourish.


Patricia June 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

Hi again Stephanie

A type of honey bee was imported to Australia by the European pioneers to produce honey for them.

However we have over 1500 native bees of our own. About 10 social native bees produce small amounts of honey. This is stored by the bees in the cooler areas to get them through the winter months.

Patricia Perth Australia


raverture June 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm

If the honey bee is of different breed, does it mean that the taste of honey is also different? Just a little bit curious because the lab is studying about honey bee and they are finding it out if it is European or had been Africanized


Stephanie Suesan Smith June 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

That is a good question. As far as I know, the taste of the honey depends on what pollen was used to make it, not the breed of bee. Africanized bees do not produce as much honey as the pure European strain, and they defend it far more aggressively. The aggressive defense is the problem because you do not have to be very close to the nest to get attacked, and you receive many more stings.


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