Bee breeders save insects, your home - Tucson News Now

Bee breeders save insects, your home

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Africanized killer bees have lead to the death of many pets, hikers and children in Arizona.

This year, experts say the swarms are larger and more aggressive. In fact, one bee expert says one in every five homes has a hive, and tackling it yourself can be deadly.

While many exterminators get rid of the bees, one company in Tucson is on a mission to save as many of them as they can. They took us to secret bee breeding facilities, located deep in the desert.
As soon as Greg Denker with American Bee Control started shaking the roof rafter, we heard the loud hum of tens of thousands of African killer bees: ornery bees ready to attack.

The hive was destroyed after a few hours. It was cut up into chunks of honeycomb, some given to the homeowner to enjoy. 

Denker sucked most of the bees up into the green bee machine, their new temporary home.

"We don't use poison.  We take the bees away," Denker said.

The final destination is an undisclosed location out in the Sonoran desert, where there are more than a dozen wooden box hives that are home to a million bees.

"This is one of several sites that we have," Denker said. "We bring the bees from Tucson to live in comfort here."

"Bees are dying off all over the country. Here we got probably the healthiest bees in the whole continent. For some reaso, they hybridize here in Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties."

"This is where they live and grow strong and we can do some selective breeding here," Denker said.

Breeding that's crucial for agriculture.

"They say three out of every ten bites of food that Americans eat comes from bees."

"I have respect for bees," Denker said. "There have been a number of times I wondered if I would make it."

And they will swarm and kill to protect their hive, but the real death would be the loss of your favorite fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bees help pollinate more than 100 crops, everything from apples, to green beans, zucchini.. and nuts. If these bees keep dying at the current rate, officials predict a food disaster, and that would really sting.

From killer bees to champion bees, the goal of this bee breeding operation is to come up with a super bee that can help farmers and stop the decline of the bee population in the country."

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