A n invasion of Southeast Asian dwarf honey bees, suspected to have entered the country via cargo or passenger ship, and initially detected not far from Kaohsiung Harbor, is causing problems in the city. Since the bees prefer to build their hives on branches, poles or other long cylindrical objects found on balconies, their presence often causes a big shock to residents. In the first half of this year alone, Kaohsiung public health officials have removed more than 500 beehives — a clear indication that the bee population is gradually expanding through the city. In an effort to deal with the increasing number of beehives and bee reproduction in metropolitan areas, the Kaohsiung City Government has set aside a budget of NT$5.25 million to capture the bees.
Suspecting that the influx of Southeast Asian bees came via cargo or passenger ship, the Council of Agriculture and Kaohsiung City Government Agriculture Bureau have launched an investigation. Dwarf honey bees are small — just half the size of a normal bee — and are a species of wild honey bee endemic to South and East Asia. The bee population, initially discovered in close proximity to Kaohsiung Harbor, spread into Cianjhen and Siaogang districts, then expanded into other areas of the city. The highest bee population density was found in areas surrounding Kaohsiung International Airport in Siaogang District. While the authorities suspect that the bees came via cargo or passenger ship, they have been unable to confirm the cause of the outbreak and continue to investigate.
For public officials, the most concerning aspect of the situation is that dwarf honey bees favor establishing their hives on walls and balconies in residential areas and particularly love using the branches of bushes, shrubs and trees. A medium-sized beehive will be about 20cm long and will wrap around or sit upon a branch, pole or similar-shaped cylindrical object. A bee colony will contain anything from several hundred up to over 10,000 bees, presenting a danger in residential areas.
Photo: Chen Wen-chan, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報陳文嬋
(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)
Photo courtesy of the Council of Agriculture 照片：農業委員會提供
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