Honey bees – especially those cultivated by professional beekeepers – are quite possibly the most important beneficial insect species we have. There’s more to it than only the honey, too. According to the USDA, roughly one-third of our diet is made up of crops which are pollinated by bees. Many plants would not produce vegetables and fruit if it were not for the work done by honey bees.
Unless there is a hive or colony located near pets or people, it is best to leave well enough alone and let the honey bees do their thing. If you find a hive in a place that is troubling, a reliable Wildlife Control company can remove the colony or, in some instances, move into a safer location.
With all that said, however, there are instances when bees can be a serious threat. “Killer” bees are not just a myth – they are a real phenomenon known as Africanized honey bees.
It is a process that happens after a new queen is now an adult and a portion of the old colony leaves to make a new hive somewhere else. Traditional honey bees swarm once a year, but Africanized honey bees (AHBs) do it as often as eight times annually.
That is where the threat comes in. One bee sting, except in the rare case of a severe allergic reaction, is not dangerous. A dozen can send you to the emergency room. Since Africanized bees swarm in greater numbers and are typically a lot more competitive than normal honey bees, AHB swarms can easily inflict 100 or more bites in a frighteningly short time period.
Even when they aren’t swarming, AHBs are more hostile when it comes to protecting their home. They actively guard their hives and, while they don’t randomly attack humans and creatures they experience when gathering pollen, Africanized bees will try to sting”invaders” who come within up to 100 feet of their colony. Normal honey bees rarely sting people who wander up to within 15 feet of their house, and even then they often won’t attack unless the hive itself is disturbed.
So how do you tell a standard honey bee and its hive from one that’s Africanized? You can not, and that amplifies the danger. It’s only been recently that federal and state officials have added Arkansas and Oklahoma to the list of areas that AHBs now occupy. They were found in southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas in 2005, but they have steadily moved into broader 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 get a reliable pest management agency and the local county extension office. If you are stung, RUN and do not stop running until you are safely indoors or in some other enclosure, such as your car.