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Ventura County Perspective

Bee Prepared--and More

April 11, 1999

Will it arrive with an angry buzz, a subterranean spasm or an epidemic of computer chaos?

However disaster might come, Ventura County is getting ready.

Last week the Board of Supervisors approved $40,000 to help the Agricultural Commissioner prepare for the long-dreaded migration of the Africanized honeybees (more colorfully if not quite accurately known as killer bees), which have been working their way northward from Brazil since 1957. Numerous schemes to stop the bees have failed, so the mission now is to learn to coexist.

"Eventually we're going to have to learn to live with them," county Agricultural Commissioner Earl McPhail told the board. "But for the first couple years we need to provide information and guidance."

The money will pay for a bee enforcement plan, which includes hiring a private pest control firm to help deal with calls during peak swarming season, plus education programs and a toll-free phone line to help county residents learn how to avoid the fierce little varmints--or at least to avoid making them mad.

The same day the board proclaimed April to be Earthquake Preparedness Month, time to check that all homes and businesses have gotten ready for quakes by stashing a supply of water, nonperishable food, flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies and warm clothes.

It's worth noting that residents who are fully prepared for an earthquake will be in relatively good shape in case that other worrisome bug--the Y2K glitch, which could make some computers think it's 1900 instead of 2000 when the clock ticks away the last seconds of 1999--causes any interruptions in delivery of goods or utility services we've come to take for granted.

In all three cases, a little preparation now will go a long way toward minimizing the effects of phenomena we can't fully prevent.

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