Honey bees – particularly those cultivated by professional beekeepers – are quite possibly the most crucial insect species we have. There’s more to it than just the honey, too. According to the USDA, roughly one-third of our diet consists of crops that are pollinated by bees. Many plants wouldn’t produce vegetables and fruit if it were not for the work accomplished by honey bees.
Unless there is a colony or hive located near people or pets, it is best to leave well enough alone and let the honey bees do their thing. If you discover a hive in a place that’s troubling, a dependable Pest Removal can eliminate the colony or, in some instances, move it to a safer location.
With all that said, however, there are cases when bees can be a significant threat. “Killer” bees are not just a myth – they are a true phenomenon called Africanized honey bees.
All sorts of bees swarm from time to time, almost always during the spring. It is a process that happens after a new queen is now an adult and a part of the old colony leaves to create a new hive somewhere else. Traditional honey bees swarm once annually, but Africanized honey bees (AHBs) do it as often as eight times a year.
That’s where the threat comes in. One bee sting, except in the rare case of a severe allergic reaction, isn’t dangerous. Since Africanized bees swarm in greater numbers and are typically much more aggressive than normal honey bees, AHB swarms can easily inflict 100 or more stings in a frighteningly short period of time.
Even when they aren’t swarming, AHBs are more aggressive when it comes to protecting their dwelling. They actively guard their hives and, while they don’t randomly attack humans and creatures they encounter when collecting pollen, Africanized bees will try to bite”invaders” who come inside up to 100 feet of the colony. Normal honey bees rarely sting those who wander up to within 15 feet of their house, and even then they often won’t strike unless the hive itself is disturbed.
So how can you tell a standard honey bee and its hive from one that’s Africanized? You can’t, which amplifies the danger. It has only been recently that state and federal officials have added Arkansas and Oklahoma to the list of areas that AHBs now occupy. They were first found in southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas in 2005, but they have steadily moved into wider areas of both countries.
Today, you should think about any bee and its colony to be Africanized, merely to be on the safe side. If you find a hive, move away quickly and contact a reliable pest management agency and the local county extension office. If you’re stung, RUN and don’t stop running until you’re safely indoors or in some other enclosure, such as your car.