African Honey Bee (AHB) –  FAQ

1. Are African Honey Bees (AHBs) the same as the “killer bees” of the media news and the movies?

Yes and no.  The two names do refer to the same bee, but the term “killer bee” is a misnomer that Hollywood picked up and made famous. African Honey Bees (AHBs) are hybrids of African Honey Bees (AHBs) brought to Brazil in 1956 and Honey Bees originally brought to the New World by European colonists. Honey Bees aren’t native to the New World.

Because of the way Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) are generally portrayed in the movies, many individuals  imagine them to go flying around looking for victims to swoop down on, en masse, causing death and destruction. This isn’t true. The truth is, the chances of being killed by Honey Bees of any sort are less than the chances of being hit by lightning.

2. How far will Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) spread into the United States?

Nobody knows for certain at this time. Some scientists believe African Honey Bees (AHBs) will thrive only in the southern USA where the winters are relatively mild.

Others believe that African Honey Bees (AHBs) will survive anywhere other Honey Bees do. As reported by studies conducted by researchers with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the situation is likely to mirror what’s taken place in Argentina.

A southern zone will develop where feral Honey Bees are almost completely Africanized and a northern zone will continue to be populated almost completely by our more familiar bees. A transition area will likely exist between these two zones in which the two groups interbreed and their behavior will stretch across the entire range of defensiveness.

3. Where are the African Honey Bees (AHBs) now?

As of July 1997, African Honey Bees (AHBs) have spread across much of southern Texas.  The African Honey Bee (AHB) is also in the southern parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California and has colonized Central and Southern Florida.

4. How quickly will Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) spread?

The speed with which Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) spread varies from year to year, depending on the weather, terrain, and the available food supply. Under averageconditions, Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) spread from 100 to 300 miles per year. Nevertheless, in the past three years, Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) movement has been very slow.

5. What does an Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) look like?

To the untrained eye, an Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) looks just like any other Honey Bee, about 3/8- to 1/2-inch long. Nonetheless, trained experts can distinguish between Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) and other Honey Bees.

6. Is one sting from an African Honey Bee (AHB) deadly?

No. One sting from an Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) is no more or less painful or hazardous than a sting from any other Honey Bee.  The venom of the two kinds of Honey Bees is essentially identical. But Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) do tend to sting in greater numbers and with less provocation than the Honey Bees we are used to in the U.S..

7. Precisely what makes African Honey Bees (AHBs) and other bees sting?

Honey Bees usually sting when their nests are threatened. On average, African Honey Bees (AHBs) are likely to sting in greater numbers and will pursue intruders further than other Honey Bees.

8. How often can an African Honey Bee (AHB) sting?

Like all Honey Bees, an African Honey Bee (AHB) can only sting once. They die shortly after stinging because they leave the stinger in the wound with a tiny venom sac attached.

9. Just what ought I do when I am stung?

Above all, stay calm. Remove the stinger when one is present. When anything abnormal happens away from the sting site, seek medical attention.

10. What should I do when African Honey Bees (AHBs) or other bees start to sting me?

Get away as quickly and safely as possible. Cover your head with a jacket or sweater and run to get inside the nearest automobile or house. African Honey Bees (AHBs) have been known to follow victims as much as a quarter of a mile from the nest or hive.

11. Am I likely to see Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) once they move into an area?

If you see Honey Bees now, you’ll probably see African Honey Bees (AHBs) once they move into the area. If you don’t notice Honey Bees now, you aren’t likely to see African Honey Bees.  The most common sighting is to see a swarm of bees as they look for a new home, either flying about or resting on a tree branch or railing.

Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) are less discriminating than other Honey Bees when it comes to nesting sites. They will build nests in the ground, in cavities in trees or buildings, under bridges, and in utility boxes when they are able to find a hole through which to enter.  To keep swarms from taking up residence in a building or utility box, seal cracks and holes or cover them with small gauge wire mesh.

12. Why is the United States Department of Agriculture involved with Africanized Honey Bees?

Honey Bees are a crucial link in USA  agriculture. Many of our crops originated in Europe and evolved with Honey Bees as their natural pollinators, so we need to provide them to pollinate these fruits and vegetables now. Domestic Honey Bees that interbreed with Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) may become harder to manage as pollinators and may  be less effective for producing honey.

13. What are scientists doing about the African Honey Bees?

Both USDA and university experts are studying biology, behavior, and management of the Africanized Honey Bees. Understanding the bee will be important in managing it.

About John Payton

Bee control expert and founder of a bee control company
This entry was posted in Bee Control, Bee Removal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s