FAQ: Africanized Honey Bee

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FAQ: Africanized Honey Bee
What is the history of the Africanized Bee?
The Africanized Honey Bee also known as “killer bee” is the result of a failed experiment. In the 1950’s a group of scientists in Brazil tried to increase bee honey production, crossing European Bees and African Bees. The result was a more productive but more aggressive breed of bee, and in an accident 26 swarms escaped in 1957. Slowly they made they way into North America and by 1985 the first Africanized Bees were found in San Joaquin Valley, California. Now they are known to have traveled as north as Colorado and Pennsylvania. The first hive found in San Diego was by Jacumba in 1988.

Why are they so dangerous?
Africanized bee has known to kill both animals and human’s beings alike as they have not been yet domesticated. They are more defensive than their European counterpart, and in return tend to attack anything that they feel threatened by. During these attacks, they will hunt their pray by the hundreds if not thousands and sting them injecting their venom. They will normally go for the ears, mouth and nostrils, leaving their victims blind and paralyzed. Due to their extensive swarming area, to escape their attack one would have to run hundreds of yards. Unfortunately, on average they kill one to two persons per year.

Are they good to the ecosystem?
They are definitively good for the ecosystem as they assist in the cross-pollination process. They are as well more productive than the European Honey Bee. Africanized bees work longer hours and sometimes even during conditions that would stop they counterpart. Another advantage they have is that they are more immune to several diseases.

What are the methods of control available?
There is a variety of methods available to property owners, the one used will depend on both the situation and customer input. However, like with any other control plan an inspection must be done first to assess the problem. These inspections should be done regularly by both the property owner and its service technician to locate nests as soon as possible. Here are some of the most common control solutions:

  • Killing and removal of bees
  • Removal of bee hive
  • Removal of Bee Queen
  • Sealing of bee hive access
  • Pesticide spray
  • Organic spray with soap and water

What are the main differences between the Africanized Honey Bee and the European Honey Bee?

  • Have a bigger swarming area
  • More productive
  • More aggressive
  • Have a higher number of “soldiers” defending the hive
  • Attack in larger numbers
  • More likely to relocate
  • Cannot survive in areas with extremely dry summers or harsh winters

What should I do if I encounter an Africanized Bee Hive or Swarm?
Leave the area immediately and contact a licensed and certified professional. Africanized Bees are as mentioned before more aggressive thus they are not something that you want to play with. If you witness an attack or are attacked yourself call 911 immediately and run to a secure place, covering your mouth and nose.

Gilberto A. Cortez
California Licensed Operator and Contractor

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