Africanized Bees in Florida
Killer Bees are the more dramatic name for Africanized honey bees. Found in Florida and within the warmer United States climates, Africanized honeybees are a genetic mix of the western honeybee and bees from southern Africa. Besides being a hybrid of two bees’ species, their distinction is the aggressiveness if their territory is disturbed.
The campaign to save the bees leaves out the dangerous nature of Africanized bees. Although all bees sting, this type of bee protects its hive with an enduring combative nature.
A Brief History of Africanized Bees
This bee hybrid resulted from a 1956 experiment by Brazilian Geneticist Dr. Warwick Kerr to create a honey-producing bee that could survive better in tropical conditions by crossing a known-aggressive African species and a European bee.
Several of the experiments escaped, mated with bees in the wild, and produced the offspring. Over the following decades, the hybrid bees migrated through Central America to the warmer U.S. states. They killed hundreds of people during that time, and the hysteria grew with the nickname “killer bees.”
Africanized bees around today are probably more aggressive than the original swarms of bees that first escaped and traveled north up years ago.
How to Identify an Africanized Bee
Not to be further confused with wasps and hornets that repeatedly sting to protect its home. Bees can sting only once before dying. Honeybees don’t usually attack in large swarms. They are generally harmless to those without allergies or hypersensitivity to bees. However, the Africanized bee has earned its reputation as a killer because it will strike in large groups.
Unless familiar with the different types of bees, you may mistake it for a common honeybee. It’s difficult to tell the two species apart because the bees look very similar to European honeybees with a golden-yellow oval body, ½” in length, but with darker brown bands.
So, you may not give bees a second thought while you enjoy the outdoors and accidentally disturb their territory. Once they feel threatened, rather than a small group attacking their target, you may find yourself facing a swarm of 10,000 to 15,000 bees.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Aggravating a Hive
If you come across a hive anywhere on your property, do not remove it. You cannot outrun a swarm that size. These bees are defensive and will protect their property. They attack intruders as far away as 150 feet and continue to swarm them as far as 500 feet.
An attacking swarm will continue to chase you unless you find the shelter of a building where you can escape them. Until then, the attacking swarm will be relentless.
To battle against infestation and attack from this type of bee, you should contact a licensed pest control operator rather than beekeepers. The operator performs a swarm control to trap it and eliminate the bees by terminating the hive and colony to prevent a potentially dangerous encounter. The technician will also remove the honeycomb from established nesting sites and apply repellent to discourage future colony infestation.
Defense Against Africanized Bees
There are procedures to prevent bees from infesting your property by removing and blocking potential nesting sites around your home or business.
The time between March and July is the swarming season. Check weekly for unusual bee activity around your yard. Seal the gaps and holes around chimneys and exposed pipe plumbing.
Further ensure bees cannot make a home within your walls by installing screens made of 1/8″ hardwire cloth over crawl spaces, rain spouts, vents, openings in tree and fence posts, water meters, and in utility boxes. Lastly, remove all abandoned vehicles, old tires, and empty containers from your property.
Rather than taking on a hive and its inhabitants of any type, whether it’s a bee, wasp, or hornet, call or contact a certified Hometown Pest Control Operator for an inspection and remove the nesting site.