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Killer Bees and Yosemite National Park Restoration Project

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The Africanized Honey Bee, also known as “killer bees” are also referred to by their scientific name, Apis mellifera. These creatures are a type of bee that was created in laboratories in Brazil through the process of mixing honeybees from Europe with those from Africa (Africanized Honey Bee, 2017.) Scientists were attempting to create a bee that would produce larger quantities of honey, but the end result was that they developed a species that was considerably less effective as well as being highly aggressive. These honeybees have been known to essentially wage invasions in which they attack honey hives in Europe, killing the Queen and installing their own leader.

The Africanized Honey Bees have been able to spread south into northern Argentina and have moved in a northern direction towards the United States. In addition, they have reached into a great deal of Central and South America. In 1990, they also entered Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and by 1994 they were also seen in California. European honey bees have long been a part of much of the United States, specifically California. Following their colonization, bee populations that are not managed have been replaced or mixed with Africanized honeybees (Africanized Honeybees, 2017.)

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Africanized honeybees have immigrated, resulting in a larger density of the colonies that are highly defensive. These honeybees react to activities that take place close to their colonies with larger numbers of bees that stay and travel over greater distances. The result is that they can become life-threatening, in particular to people who are allergic or have limitations on their ability to escape them, such as the old, the young, and the disabled, and are also likely to attack livestock or pets that are confined. All of the countries to which they have migrated have experienced the deaths of humans and animals. Africanized honeybees also disrupt beekeeping activities and so are more challenging to manage and transport. The best defense is to maintain colonies of European bees in the areas where Africanized honeybees are present. However, in order to do this, it is very expensive for beekeepers. It is also more problematic to find locations in which to house the bees because of fears on the part of the public as well as concerns about liability (Smithsonian, 2017.)

An example of a restoration project that will provide benefits to the public and the environment is the Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias project, located in Yosemite National Park in California. The aim of the project is to restore the dynamic ecology of the Grove, as well as to increase its resilience (National Park Service, 2017.) Beginning in 2015, the park was closed in order to complete this project. When all the work is completed, visitors will be able to take advantage of a parking center as well as an information site at the entrance, and many of the roads will be converted into hiking trails. In addition, there will be universal access to the park for every visitor because of the addition of over a half-mile of new accessible trails and boardwalks. Vault toilets will be replaced by flush toilets, and commercial activities including the gift shop and tram tours will also be discontinued.

Yosemite National Park began its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2014 at the start of this restoration project, largely in an effort to improve the experience of the visitors to the location. The giant sequoias were so inspirational to the early visitors that in 1864, during the Civil War, Congress enacted landmark legislation for the permanent preservation of the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley for use of the public as a resort and for recreation. The value of the preservation of Yosemite National Park to the public is to provide a sampling of the beauty and the natural surroundings that existed in the United States prior to and in spite of industrialization and urbanization that have contributed so greatly to the loss of natural habitats.

    References
  • Africanized Honeybee s Research. (2017, August 7). Retrieved from Center for Invasive Specie: http://cisr.ucr.edu/africanized_honey_bee.html
  • National Park Service. (2017). Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias project. Retrieved from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/mariposagrove.htm
  • NPS.gov. (2017). Restoration of the Mariposa Grove project. Retrieved from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov
  • Smithsonian. (2017). Killer Bees. Retrieved from Smithsonian: https://www.si.edu/encyclopedia_si/nmnh/buginfo/killbee.htm