Do I have killer bees on my property
I see some bees coming around my hummingbird feeder. Is it possible these are the 'killer' bees that have killed dogs and attacked people?
There is no way of knowing if the bees you see are the Africanized Honeybee (AHB) or the European Honeybee (EHB). Visually EHB and AHB are identical to each other. Experts can not tell them apart with out laboratory analysis. They are not killer bees, even though the media makes it sounds as if these insects require human flesh to complete their life cycle! Honeybees are not native to the Americas. There are six species of honeybees in the world and over 20,000 known species of bees. EHB were brought to America by immigrants and known by Native Americans as white man's lice. In the mid 1950's bee researchers imported some AHB into Brazil to breed with EHB to hopefully increase the EHB's honey production in tropical environments. Some AHB escaped and began moving north. They arrived in south Texas 1992. Honeybees defend their colonies or home vigorously because this is where their young are reared and food is stored. In nature, bears, skunks and other animals try to steal their stored food. Honeybees are aggravated by motions of larger dark objects, animal smells like leather and perfumes, shampoos and perspiration. Both bee species sting in the same way, going for the head and eyes, with a barbed stinger that remains in the victim. AHB venom is just as potent as EHB venom. Venom is pumped from a bulb on the top end of the stinger through it into flesh. Stingers should be scraped out with a knife, finger nail or credit card. Trying to pull out a stinger will squeeze more venom into the victim's flesh. A lone foraging bee whether an EHB or AHB will not bother you if you do not bother it. Swarms of honeybees are seen during the spring and summer and with AHB swarm even in the fall and warm winters. About half of the old colonies bees accompany the queen. This is the way that honeybees divide and establish colony and form another. They are not defensive because they are looking for a home and have nothing to defend. Once a place is located by scout bees and the swarm then set up house keeping. When the new colony is established with young and food stores the bees will defend it. AHB will defend their colony more vigorously than EHB. EHB have been selected and red for centuries to be docile and productive. AHB are just like EHB but just have a bad aggressive attitude. More people die in the United States from lighting than from bee stings. The numbers perhaps will increase with the AHB but will not likely surpass lightning deaths. It is advised to close holes and cracks in homes, barns and out-buildings that are larger than a pencil eraser. Use caulk, boards or other suitable materials. Make weekly inspections of wood piles, abandoned cars, old tires and junk piles which could make suitable place for swarming bees to establish new colonies. If new colonies are found call certified bee removal personnel such as beekeeper, pest control operators or the Arizona Department of Agriculture so action can be initiated. If you or someone else is stung run into a house or vehicle to get away from other bees. A sting pheromone alerts other bees to sting also. Do not swat at the bees with your hands and arms just run to safety. If you are out in the open you must run for a quarter or half mile to distance yourself from the bees. We will have to learn to live with AHB but there is little difference from EHB.