The African Honey Bee is a Bee with Attitude
with a Capital A.
July 23, 2005
And like so many other of us transplants who visit Florida, are probably here to stay. They are extremely defensive and if you get close to the hive they can explode and stinging in large numbers. They will also chase an intruder for long distances to get rid of it.
African honeybees probably present the greatest danger in the U.S. to American beekeeping and American agriculture in general. African honeybees often enter European colonies to mingle and mate with them. Such mating results in more hybrid bees having African genes and tendencies dominating over European ones. An entire colony may suddenly take on aggressive and short-tempered behavior.
The best safety advice is to avoid an encounter with unfriendly African bees. Be alert for danger. Remember that African honeybees sting to defend their colony, so be on the look out for honey bee swarms and colonies.
- Be alert for bees coming in and out of an opening such as a crack in a wall, or the hole in a utility box.
- Listen for the hum of an active bee colony.
- Look for bees in holes in the ground, holes in trees or cacti, and in sheds.
- Be extra careful when moving junk that has been lying around.
- Be alert for bees that are acting strangely. Quite often bees will display some preliminary defensive behavior before going into a full-fledged attack.
- When you are outdoors, in a rural area, a park or wilderness reserve, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bees the way you would watch for snakes and other natural dangers.
- Don’t panic at the sight of a few bees foraging in the flowers. Bees are generally very docile as they go about their normal activities.
As the number of African bee colonies increases in an area, so , too, does the likelihood of human and animal encounters with them. Serious human injury can be avoided if the habits of Africanized bees are learned and precautions taken.
- Wear light- colored clothing. Bees tend to attack dark things. Dark clothing, dark hair, any thing dark in color could draw the animus of African honeybees (AHB.)
- Bees are sensitive to odors, both pleasant and unpleasant. The smell of newly cut grass has been shown to disturb honeybees. Avoid wearing floral or citrus aftershaves or perfume.
- Check your house and yard at least once a month to see if there are any signs of bees taking up residence. If you do find a swarm or colony, leave it be and keep family and pets away. Find a pest control company or a local beekeeper to solve the problem.
- To help prevent honey bees from building a colony in your house or yard, fill all cracks and crevices in walls with steel wool and caulk. Remove piles of refuse, honey bees will nest in an old soda can or overturned flower pot. Fill holes in the ground.