The best safety advice is to avoid an encounter with unfriendly Africanized Bees. Be alert for danger. Remember that AHB sting to defend their colony, so be on the look out for honey bee swarms and colonies.
- Be alert for bees coming in and out of an opening such as a crack in a wall, or the hole in a utility box.
- Listen for the hum of an active bee colony.
- Look for bees in holes in the ground, holes in trees or cacti, and in sheds.
- Be extra careful when moving junk that has been lying around.
- Be alert for bees that are acting strangely. Quite often bees will display some preliminary defensive behavior before going into a full-fledged attack.
- When you are outdoors, in a rural area, a park or wilderness reserve, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bees the way you would watch out for snakes and other natural dangers.
Don’t panic at the sight of a few bees foraging in the flowers. Bees are generally very docile as they go about their normal activities.
As the number of Africanized bee colonies increases in an area, so, too, does the likelihood of human and animal encounters with them. Serious human injury can be avoided if the habits of Africanized bees are learned and precautions taken.
- Wear light-colored clothing. Bees tend to attack dark things. Dark clothing, dark hair, any thing dark in color could draw the animus of AHB.
- Bees are sensitive to odors, both pleasant and unpleasant. The smell of newly cut grass has been shown to disturb honey bees. Avoid wearing floral or citrus aftershaves or perfume.
- Check your house and yard at least once a month to see if there are any signs of bees taking up residence. If you do find a swarm or colony, leave it be and keep family and pets away. Find a pest control company or a local beekeeper to solve the problem.
- To help prevent honey bees from building a colony in your house or yard, fill all cracks and crevices in walls with steel wool and caulk. Remove piles of refuse, honey bees will nest in an old soda can or an overturned flower pot. Fill holes in the ground.
Obviously, it is best to avoid contact with Africanized Honey Bees. But if contact becomes unavoidable, it is important to know what to do. Bees target the head, and nearly all those who suffer serious stinging incidents with Africanized Bees are overcome by stings to the head and face.
The best method of escaping a bee attack is to cover your head and run for shelter.
Any covering for your body, especially for your head and face, will help you escape. A small handkerchief or mosquito net device that fits over the head could easily be carried in a pocket.
If you do not have these, grab a blanket, coat, towel, anything that will give you momentary relief while you look for an avenue of escape. If you have nothing else, pull your shirt up over your face. The stings you may get on your chest and abdomen are far less serious than those to the facial area.
- Try to find shelter as soon as possible. Take refuge in a house, tent or a car with the windows and doors closed.
- DO NOT JUMP INTO WATER! Bees will wait for you to come up for air.
- Once you are away from the bees, evaluate the situation. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or if you are having any symptoms other than local pain and swelling, seek medical attention immediately.
- If you see someone else being stung or think others are in danger, call 911 immediately.
- Remove stingers as soon as possible to lessen the amount of venom entering the body. Scrape stingers off the skin with a blunt instrument or plastic card. Do not remove bee stingers with fingers or tweezers – this only forces toxins into the victim’s body.
- Are slightly smaller than the European honey bee, but only an expert can tell them apart
- Defend their hive more rapidly than the European honey bee
- Usually sting in greater numbers
- Are less selective about where they nest
- Swarm more often than European honey bees
- Do not have stronger venom than the European honey bee
- Each bee can only sting one time – females die after stinging
- Eat nectar and pollen and make honey
Are not native to the U.S.; they came from Africa