Spring is the favored season among most, full of warmer weather, chirping birds, and buzzing bees. What most people don’t know is that some bees in Arizona aren’t so harmless. In fact, researchers now believe that 100% of all feral honeybees in Southern Arizona are Africanized and that any wild honeybee hive should be considered dangerous. It’s important to know what to look out for and how to prevent an infestation at your home.
As we transition to Spring, we enter Africanized honeybee swarming season. This is the time of year when new queens are anointed and, along with hundreds or sometimes thousands of worker and drone bees, leave their hives to establish a new colony. This process is called swarming, and once a swarm lands and begins to establish a new hive, Africanized honeybees become dangerous to people and pets.
Africanized honeybees were first identified in Arizona in the early 1990s. At the time, Arizona was home to wild European honeybees as well as more than 1,000 different species of native pollinators. Africanized honeybees are extremely aggressive defenders of their colonies. While their colony might send a couple dozen bees to attack a threat, an Africanized honeybee colony will send hundreds. Although the venom of an Africanized honeybee sting isn’t any more potent than the European honeybee, the number of potential stings is what can make their attacks deadly. Africanized honeybees tend to be more sensitive to noises and have a larger alarm zone than European honeybees. Africanized honeybees are also known to pursue a threat over a greater distance than European honeybees—sometimes more than a quarter of a mile from their hive.
What to do if attacked
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re being attacked by Africanized honeybees, you should run as fast as possible in a straight line to the nearest shelter such as a car or house. While running, you should cover your face and, if possible, avoid leading the Africanized honeybees toward other people or pets. You should never attempt to hide from attacking bees by jumping into a pool or other body of water as the Africanized honeybees will wait for you to resurface to resume their attack. Once safely inside, try to remove any stingers; avoiding squeezing the stinger, if possible, which could inject more venom. If you feel like you’re experiencing any symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should seek medical attention immediately.
How to control Africanized honeybees
Africanized honeybees are impossible to tell apart from European honeybees by the untrained eye. Therefore, if you see a ball of honeybees on trees, eaves of buildings, or walls, or if you see honeybees flying in and out of wall voids, irrigation boxes, or trees, a licensed professional should be called. The professional will be able to evaluate the honeybee activity and determine the best course of action to ensure that people and animals in the area remain safe.
For more information about Africanized honeybees in the Southern Arizona, visit www.BillsHomeService.com/bees-wasps or call 520-625-2381 to speak with one of the licensed professionals at Bill’s Home Service.