Africanized Bees

     Africanized bees look just like any other bee, so you should always take caution around bees. I have learned the behaviors of both regular honey and Africanized bees through years of experience keeping them. Africanized bees produce a lot of swarms: more than any other bee I have ever kept. Swarms are the mechanism by which bees propagate. The hive will temporarily contain multiple queens, followed by one of the queens leaving with a portion of the hive’s worker population following her. Italian honey bees will not swarm if they have room in the hive to build new honeycomb. Once they’re out of space to build, they will swarm with nearly half of the hive’s population leaving. Italian honey bees will do this once or twice a year depending on how much room they have to build up.

     Unlike the typical honey bees, Africanized bees will swarm even when it is not necessary to do so because of hive space. Rather than half of the hive leaving in a swarm, only a small portion of the population will leave. This can let Africanized bees swarm several times in just a few hours. In the spring, they will do this every one or two months. When a small swarm moves in they will conserve their workers rather than attacking when threatened. They seem to know that they need their workers to survive. I have even been able to work with them without any smoke. They will run but not fight. This is the best time to re-queen them, Sometimes, after being disturbed, they will abandon the hive and leave the brood and honey behind Taking your new queen with them. If it is a late season swarm they can stay in this friendly mode for quite some time.

     When the new hive builds up to a point where they no longer need all of their workers, they will start to get more aggressive and will not be so tolerant of the weed whacker and the lawn mowers. I have had many people tell me they had the bee hive for over a year and ran the lawnmower right up to them and they never did anything until that one day when they stung every one, even the family dog. What happened? Why did they do that? First, they finely had enough time to build up their numbers so they no longer need all of their workers. Second, they got disturbed or stressed; usually it takes a few things to aggravate the hive, but it can seem like they just attacked for no apparent reason. What you did not see is the local kids throwing rocks at it and running away, and the last week’s predators that have been eating them. There are a few predators that will stress a hive including skunks, yellow jackets, lizards, roof rats and birds. A stressed hive is a dangerous hive. Each time they have something going on, they will release an alarm pheromone. This will tell the hive something is wrong and putt them on guard. The first few times they will settle back down quickly, but after a while they will just stay at that alarmed state. If you pick this time to mow your yard you will get stung. Or you walk by with some banana oil in your sun tan lotion, to the bees it’s the same as there alarm pheromone, causing them to attack. Even standing in their regular flight path can be enough. When they reach this level anything can set them off. They will start attacking in mass instead of just one or two bees. If you find yourself getting attacked, protect your eyes and leave the area as fast as you can. Get into shelter if you can: a car, building, or house.

Protecting Yourself from Bee Attacks

     When you are out where you might run into bees always wear some kind of protective eyewear. They will fly into you at full speed and if they hit or string you in the eye, you can’t see to run away, and will be in real trouble they aim for the eyes. Never wear anything with banana oil in it, it will really set them off. When they sting you they leave a pheromone marker that tells all the other bees you are the one that needs to get stung. Banana oil smells the same to a bee. If you have a hive, get it removed while it’s small before it builds up to a dangerous size. DO NOT disturb them. If you leave them alone they are less likely to get stressed. Don’t get wasp spray thinking you can take care of them that way. It will only kill some of them and make the rest even more dangerous. When anything gets close to the hive they will attack in large numbers. Always get someone who knows how to deal with them to help you. Swarms will usually move on to a new location within a day or two. However, in many cases they will move to someplace that’s a lot harder to deal with them, like inside the walls of your house or the attic. It’s a bit of a gamble to wait them out and see if they are going into your neighbor’s house or your own. My advice is to deal with them while it’s still easy, safe, and cheaper. New swarms are a lot easer to deal with than a hive in your walls and it is kinder to your neighbors. So be a good neighbor and give me a call so I can relocate them to a safe place where they can be re-queened and used as honey bees.
Killer Bees are Deadly

How To Survive a Bee Attack


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