Africanized Honey Bees in Los Angeles

Africanized Honey Bees have become an issue in Los Angeles, and you need to make sure you have all of the information you need to keep you safe around these aggressive honey bees.

What Are Africanized Honey Bees

Honey Bee

Honey bee

Africanized honey bees very similar to other types of bees.  They are a hybrid of the African Honey Bee and the European Honey Bee, and were introduced into the environment around 1957, after African bees were brought to Brazil in an effort to breed bees that were able to withstand areas with tropical temperatures.  These African Bees escaped from the lab, and proceeded to breed with the local honey bees, producing the hybrid Africanized Honey Bee.

Africanized Honey Bees Vs European Honey Bees

Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) and European Honey Bees have quite a bit in common.  Both varieties look the same, and have the same type of venom.  Both bees also pollinate flowers, make wax and honey, have the exact same venom, and die once they sting you.  The difference in these two bees is the way in which they protect their colonies.  AHBs are considerably more aggressive when it comes to protecting their hives.  These bees can sense potential threats from animals and people even when they are more than 50 feet from the colony, as well as being able to feel vibrations from over 100 feet.  When either of these are sensed, the AHBs will react quickly, and in much larger numbers than European Honey Bees.

AHB’s in the United States

The Africanized Honey Bee was first discovered in the United States when they were found in Texas in 1990.  Since that time, they have continued to spread throughout the country, with the first swarm reaching California in 1994 when it was discovered and destroyed aboard a Dutch Freightliner in Los Angeles Harbor.

AHBs in Los Angeles

Africanized bees

Africanized bees

Los Angeles was not considered to be colonized by Africanized Honey Bees until 1999. Today, AHBs can be found throughout Southern California and Los Angeles.  Even though the threat associated with these bees has been exaggerated, they can still be very dangerous if you are not prepared to deal with them properly.  In June of 2012, a swarm of Africanized Honey Bees left 16 dogs with multiple stings, with three of them requiring hospitalization.  In 2013, a family pet was attacked and killed by a swarm of Africanized Honey Bees when the dog’s owner, who was cutting down the tree, disturbed their hive.  While AHB attacks are actually relatively rare, there have been a few cases in Los Angeles in recent years, with most of them involving pets.

Dangers of Africanized Honey Bees in Los Angeles

Africanized honey bees do represent a danger to those living in Los Angeles.  These bees will make their hives almost anywhere, including old tires, in the walls of houses, in the ground, and any other area that they can get too.  It is recommended that residents do a thorough check of their homes and surrounding areas, and seal any holes that could allow the bees to have access.

If you are attacked by AHBs, you need to run, while trying to make sure to keep your head and face covered. You should try to get to a building or car that will allow you to get away from the attacking bees, but you should never jump into water to protect yourself.  These bees will simply wait for you to come up for air, and start stinging you again.  If you experience multiple stings, call 911, and try to begin removing as many stingers as possible.