June 28, 2006

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Africanized honey bees, like these swarming near a research facility in South Texas, have been found in the state's Panhandle region. (Texas Cooperative Extension photo by Jerrold Summerlin)

  Africanized bee appearance in Texas panhandle calls for caution

By Kay Ledbetter
Texas Agricultural Extension

Bees confirmed as the Africanized strain have been found in the Panhandle, prompting a word of caution from a Texas Cooperative Extension specialist.

Dr. Carl Patrick, Extension entomologist in Amarillo, said this summer he has received two to three samples of bees a week to send for testing, compared to two to three a month in the past.

"We just need people to understand we have them (Africanized honey bees) in the area, and there will be bees throughout the Panhandle that act a little more aggressively than they have in the past," he said.

The first confirmed case was collected Jan. 30 in Armstrong County, Patrick said. Since then, bees from Amarillo in Randall County were collected and tested positive on April 19, May 16 and June 1.

"We knew they had moved as far north as Swisher County in the past years, but this is the first year they've been found this far north," he said. "We haven't received anything from the northern Panhandle, but we have to assume they run throughout the area now."

Distinguishing between native honey bees and the Africanized strain cannot be done visually, Patrick said. All bees must be sent to the Texas Honey Bee Identification Lab in College Station to be confirmed through genetic tests or by measurements.

Africanized honey bees were brought to Brazil in 1956 to improve honey production of the European honey bee, he said. In 1957, containment measures failed and several swarms escaped into the countryside.

The Africanized bee passed on its aggressive traits through mating and began moving north at a rate of 200 to 300 miles per year, first entering Texas in 1990, Patrick said.

"These bees will not look different and the single bees out foraging among the flowers will not act any different than they always do," he said. "Usually, even the swarms you see in the open will not act any different."

The Africanized bees are more aggressive in protecting their brood, Patrick said. European honey bees may chase intruders up to 100 feet from the colony, but the Africanized bees will go as far as 400 feet.

The sting is the same whether the bee is European or Africanized, but many more bees will aggressively attack if it is the Africanized bee, he said.

"What we've learned over the years is certain things really irritate the Africanized bees," Patrick said. "They don't like small engines, such as lawnmowers, weed-eaters and chainsaws."

Also, the European honey bees tend to nest aboveground in houses, trees or vacant structures, he said. In addition to those nesting sites, Africanized bees also nest in holes in the ground, irrigation pipes, control boxes and underneath houses.

Patrick offered some advice for individuals coming in contact with any bees:

  • Stay away or get away as quickly and as far as possible.
  • Get into a vehicle or house or if it is a brushy area, put as much brush between the source of the bees and yourself.
  • Call 911 if you witness someone being stung, and be sure to tell emergency personnel exactly what the situation is so they can come prepared to deal with the bees when trying to administer aid.
  • Scrape stingers from the body, don't try to pull them out. Each stinger has a venom sack and pulling only mashes more venom into the wound.

"People who know of an established colony should call someone in the pest control industry to take care of it," Patrick said. "It's not for the novice person to deal with. There are a few pest control folks who will do it. They charge, but to me, it would be worth it."

For more information on Africanized honey bees, go to: http://honeybee.tamu.edu/.

The two-year turfgrass study began in March 2002 and involved 18 field plots. Irrigation treatments included potable water and recycled water applied at rates to replace evapotranspiration. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo)

  Research examines use of recycled water for turfgrass irrigation in San Antonio

By Blair Fannin
Texas Agricultural Extension

Maintaining high-quality turfgrass during the hot and dry summer months in Central Texas requires irrigation that increases demand on potable water supplies.

But new Texas Agricultural Experiment Station research shows few adverse effects when recycled water is used on turfgrass in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

The findings are significant, researchers say, because it could help reduce daily demands from the diminishing aquifer.

The study examined Type 1 recycled water, known as municipally treated wastewater, reclaimed water or effluent water. It's frequently used to irrigate large turfgrass areas, helping to save higher quality surface and groundwater for potable water use.

With San Antonio's growing population requiring more water, maximum withdrawal rates have been imposed by the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

"One impetus for our study was the fact that two plants and a distribution pipeline have been built to produce and distribute recycled water throughout the metropolitan area," said Jim Thomas, Experiment Station scientist.

Officials questioned whether customers on the recharge zone could use recycled water for irrigating turfgrass. Water officials' main concern was whether unwanted nitrates would penetrate the recharge zone and threaten drinking water.

"Basically, the answer is yes," Thomas said. "We found there were only slight increases in nitrates. We found it was reasonably safe to use on the location we studied. We had only a slight increase in the accumulation of salt and sodium in the soil."

Results also revealed a slight increase in potassium in leaf tissue, and "a little increase in salt leaching down to the groundwater table," Thomas said. "The majority of constituents remained within drinking water requirements," he said. "Thus, irrigation with recycled water wasn't going to pose a significant threat to groundwater."

Thomas, who partnered on the study with Dr. Richard White, Experiment Station scientist, said Type 1 recycled water receiving the highest treatment is rated safe for incidental human contact.

The two-year study began in March 2002 and involved 18 field plots. Irrigation treatments included potable water and recycled water applied at rates to replace evapotranspiration. In addition, the study included recycled water applied at a rate of 1.1 times the rate of evapotranspiration.

Tifway Bermudagrass and Jamur Zoysiagrass, common grasses grown in the San Antonio area, were used in the study. Samples of runoff water, leachate water, and soil and leaf tissue were collected monthly and tested for nine nutrients and total salts.

Both water sources were found to be capable of producing high quality, "aesthetically pleasing turf," Thomas said, "when used with other appropriate management practices, such as proper mowing and nitrogen fertilization."

Increased amounts of total salts were measured in soil samples where recycled water was applied, he said.

"Careful long-term salt management would be needed to prevent the accumulation of an excessive amount of total salts or sodium in the root zone. Concentrations of all other nutrients in the soil were unaffected by irrigation water resources," Thomas said.

The study was published in the July-August issue of Agronomy Journal. Experiment Station researchers teamed with the San Antonio Water System, Bladerunner Turf Farm, and consultants from CH2M HILL to complete the study.


  Readers' Gardening Tips

From J. W. McKenzie: "I used to have problems with my patio plants drying out between waterings. Now I just add a few handfuls of grass clippings every week to the top of each container as a mulch. This helps keep my plants cool and moist through those hot July days and provides needed organic matter to container soil."

Have a favorite gardening tip you'd like to share? Texas Gardener's Seeds is seeking brief gardening tips from Texas gardeners to use in future issues. If we publish your tip in Seeds, we will seed you a free Texas Gardener cap. Here's a chance to get published and keep your head in the shade! Please send your tips of 50 words or less to the editor at: Gardening Tips.


  Did you know...

When you think of the herb dill, you probably think of its use in flavoring pickles or vinegars, but early American settlers called dill seed "meetinghouse seed," chewing them to stave off the boredom and hunger of long sessions in church or town meetings. They also used dill to ward off witches.

  Upcoming Garden Events

The San Antonio Botanical Garden will host the Junior Naturalist for those aged 7 through 11 July 10 through 14. Activities will include hands-on gardening, arts and crafts, nature studies, and other outdoor activities. Registration in $150, with discounts available for San Antonio Botanical Society members. For more information or to make reservations, call (201) 207-3270.

The Texas Bamboo Society will host the 14th Annual Texas Bamboo Festival at Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin, on Saturday and Sunday, August 26 through 27, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Darrel DeBoer, will present a program entitled "Bamboo Architecture Around the World." The festival will also feature bamboo plants, crafts, musical instruments, poles, presentations, demonstrations and educational information about bamboo. Admission is free and parking is $3. For more information visit, www.bamboocentral.net or call (512) 929-9565.

The Herb Association of Texas and the Antique Rose Emporium will host A Celebration of the Herbal Harvest: A Focus on Culinary Herbs, September 22 through 23, San Antonio. The event will include a road trip, cooking classes, herbal refreshments, lectures and a vendor fair featuring locally grown herbs and related products. To register or for more information, contact Beth Patterson at (830) 257-6732 or e-mail info@texasherbs.org.

The Garden Conservancy will host a tour of five private gardens in Dallas, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., September 23. The tour is self-guided. The conservancy will also sponsor similar tours in Galveston, October 14 and Austin, October 21. Admission to each garden is $5, no reservations required, rain or shine. For more information, visit www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays.html or call toll-free (888) 842-2442.

ArtScape, September 23 and 24, 9 a.m. to 5. p.m., is the Dallas Arboretum's first ever fine art show and sale. The two-day art fair is a family-oriented event that will kick off the Dallas Blooms Autumn festival. ArtScape will feature artists from around the country, the Tour de Fleurs race, the Ultimate Tree Houses exhibit, entertainment and many exciting classes. ArtScape will complement Ultimate Tree Houses, a juried exhibit of 12 tree houses that will be on display throughout the garden. In addition, this year's event will kick off with Tour de Fleurs a 10k, 5k and 1 mile fun run. What a great way to start the weekend! For additional information, please email jijams@dallasarboretum.org.

The Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardeners will sponsor the annual Hidden Garden Tour September 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Rockport. Enjoy touring Rockport and the surrounding area and tour some of the area's private gardens plus Green Acres Demonstration gardens. Bus tours will be available for $15 and tickets must be purchased ahead. Self-guided tours are $10. A plant sale will occur at Green Acres on the day of the tour. Green Acres Demonstration gardens, located at the Aransas County Extension Office (611 E. Mimosa behind Monroe's Furniture on Hwy 35) is the start of the tour on September 30. Maps and additional tour information for the Hidden Garden Tour can be obtained by contacting the Aransas County Extension Office at (361) 790-0103.

The Johnson County Herb Society will hold its Herbal Thymes Show and Symposium, October 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cleburne Senior Center, Cleburne. The event will feature speakers, demonstrations herb plants and related products. For more information, contact Esther Chambliss at (817) 263-9322 or visit www.cleburnearea.info/herbies/.

The San Antonio chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will host the groups' annual symposium Convergence and Diversity: Native Plants of South Central Texas, October 19 through 22, San Antonio. The symposium will feature guided tours to natural areas, seminars on native plants and a special program on cooking with native plants. For more information, contact (210) 733-0034, (830) 997-9272 or visit www.npsot.org.

The Texas Gourd Society will hold its 11th annual "Show and Tell" at the Waco Convention Center, Waco, November 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The two-day show will include gourd artists, seminars, demonstrations and much more. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 12 free. For more information, visit www.texasgourdsociety.org.

The Garland Organic Club meets the first Sunday of each month in the little red school house at 1651 Wall St., Garland. All interested gardeners are invited to attend. For more information, call (972) 864-1934 or (800) 864-4445.

Austin Organic Gardeners meet at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. For more information, visit www.main.org/aog.

The Dallas Organic Garden Club meets at 6:45 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Fretz Park Recreation Center, located at the corner of Hillcrest and Beltline Road in Dallas. For more information, call (214) 676-4326 or visit www.dogc.org.

  Gardening With Heirloom Seeds a great resource  

Heirloom seeds are more than the promise of next summer's crookneck squash or jewel-colored zinnias. They're living antiques handed down from one generation to the next, a rich inheritance of flavor and beauty from long ago and, often, far away. Author Lynn Coulter describes 50 treasured heirloom species, from Frenchman's Darling, a flowering herb whose seeds were pocketed by Napoleon Bonaparte when he invaded Egypt in 1798, to Snow White beets, an old Dutch favorite that will not stain a cook's fingers red. The beautifully illustrated text is sprinkled with practical advice and serves as a great resource for gardeners, cooks and plant lovers.

 $24.02 plus shipping*

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020 or order on-line.

 *Mention Texas Gardener's Seeds when ordering by phone during the month of July and we'll waive shipping charges. (Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)

  Two hats are better than one!

Let your friends and neighbors know that you are proud to be a Texas Gardener with this top-quality cap. Heavy construction, six-panel, pro-style brushed cotton twill, low-profile khaki with dark green bill and logo. Buy one cap and received a second at no additional charge.

 $17.07 (includes shipping!)

Order by calling 1-800-727-9020. Not available through on-line bookstore.

(Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.)


Texas Gardener's Seeds
is published weekly. Suntex Communications, Inc. 2006. All rights reserved. You may forward this publication to your friends and colleagues if it is sent in its entirety. No individual part of this newsletter may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher.

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Publisher: Chris S. Corby Editor: Michael Bracken

Texas Gardener's Seeds, P.O. Box 9005, Waco, Texas 76714 ● www.TexasGardener.com