Africanized Honey Bees (Honey Bees)
|What to do if attacked by bees!
| Remember these important steps:
1. RUN away quickly! Do not stop to help others however small children and the disabled may need assistance.
2. As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face but make sure it does not slow your progress.
This will help keep the bees from targeting the sensitive areas around your head and eyes.
3. Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you
indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will become confused and fly to windows. Do not jump into water!
The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped , cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes or
whatever else is immediately available.
4. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract
5. Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honey bees stings it leaves its stinger
in the skin. This kills the honey bee so it can't sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter into the wound
for a short time.
6. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape
the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.
7. If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them
yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area have probably been
trained to handle bee attacks.
8. If you have been stung more than 15 times or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to
bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight.
This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings.
|Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) -- also called Africanized bees or killer bees -- are descendants of southern African bees
imported in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.
When some of these bees escaped quarantine in 1957, they began breeding with local Brazilian honey bees, quickly
multiplying and extended their range throughout South and Central America at a rate greater than 200 miles per year. In the
past decade, AHB began invading North America.
Africanized bees acquired the name killer bees because they will viciously attack people and animals who unwittingly stray
into their territory, often resulting in serious injury or death.
It is not necessary to disturb the hive itself to initiate an AHB attack. In fact, Africanized bees have been know to respond
viciously to mundane occurrences, including noises or even vibrations from vehicles, equipment and pedestrians.
Though their venom is no more potent than native honey bees, Africanized bees attack in far greater numbers and pursue
perceived enemies for greater distances. Once disturbed, colonies may remain agitated for 24 hours, attacking people and
animals within a range of a quarter mile from the hive.
Africanized bees proliferate because they are less discriminating in their choice of nests than native bees, utilizing a variety of
natural and man-made objects , including hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics, utility boxes, garbage containers and
abandoned vehicles. They also tend to swarm more often than other honey bees.
The first swarm of Africanized bees was detected in the U.S. in October, 1990 when they were captured in a baited trap at
the border town of Hidalgo, Texas. AHB colonies were first reported in Arizona and New Mexico in 1993 and in California in
October, 1994. Within a year, more than 8,000 square miles of Imperial, Riverside and northeastern San Diego counties were
declared officially colonized by Africanized Bees.
To date, more than 100 counties in Texas, 6 in New Mexico, 14 in Arizona, 1 in Nevada, and 3 counties in California have
reported Africanized honey bees. AHB continue the northward expansion of their territories by swarming, the process by
which bee colonies replicate.
In May of 1991, Jesus Diaz became the first person to be attacked by AHB in the U.S. while mowing a lawn in the border
city of Brownsville, Texas. Diaz suffered 18 stings and was treated at a local hospital.
On July 15, 1993, 82-year-old Lino Lopez became the first person to die in the U.S. from Africanized honey bee stings. He
was stung more than 40 times while trying to remove a colony from a wall in an abandoned building on his ranch near
Arizona's first human fatality from Africanized Bees occurred in October, 1993 when 88-year-old Apache Junction woman
disturbed a large Africanized honey bee colony in an abandoned building on her property and was stung numerous times.
Although such fatalities are alarming, Africanized Bees probably present the greatest danger in the U.S. to American
beekeeping and American agriculture in general. AHBs often enter European colonies to mingle and mate with them. Such
mating results in more hybrid bees having African genes and tendencies dominating over European ones. An entire colony
may suddenly take on aggressive and short-tempered behavior.
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