is Africanized Honey Bee (AHB)?
The Africanized Honey Bee is a hybrid
of one of the several European Honey Bee subspecies
(Apis mellifera mellifera, A.m.carnica, A.m.caucasia,
or A.m.linguica) and the African Honey Bee (Apis
mellifera scutellata). The hybrid is virtually indistinguishable
in the field from the common honey bee. The AHB will
set up colonies in all the same areas as the European
Honey Bee (EHB) and will also nest close to or in the
ground. The most noticeable difference between the two
types of bees is that AHB is extremely aggressive in
defense of the colony. At any perceived threat, bees
can "swarm" out of the colony and attack, stinging in
large numbers, sometimes in the hundreds.
is AHB a problem?
The way the AHB defends its nest is
the main problem. AHB will respond to any threat to
their nest and it does not take much for them to feel
threatened. A person walking within 50 feet of a colony
can trigger an attack. Operating power tools or power
lawn equipment can trigger an attack from as far away
as 100 feet. The AHB will respond in higher numbers
than the EHB and more bees will sting the victim. AHB
will chase a victim 1/4 to 1/2 mile and will remain
agitated for an hour or more after an attack. This could
cause a problem for someone arriving after an attack
and walking into the areas where the agitated bees are.
Sting for sting, the AHB is virtually identical to the
EHB. The fact that more of them will sting a victim
makes them more dangerous. Some people are allergic
to bee stings. If you start swelling or have trouble
breathing, see a doctor. If you are stung many times,
see a doctor whether or not you have symptoms.
in Los Angeles County can AHB be found?
We declared Los Angeles
completely colonized in April 1999. This means that
we would not be surprised to find AHB anywhere in the
county. Once an area is colonized, it usually takes
2-3 years until they are widespread enough to be found
throughout the area. Realistically, it will not be commonly
found above 3000 feet, especially over winter. In the
Antelope Valley we expect it to move in seasonally when
food and water are available. It will probably not be
commonly found in the Antelope Valley as a year-round
do I do about AHB?
IS ATTACKED- Call 911.
A SWARM/NEST OF BEES ON OR IN A STRUCTURE:
- Look in your local Yellow Pages under "Pest Control"
and call a licensed Pest Control Operator. We recommend
that you DO NOT attempt to kill or remove the bees yourself.
SWARM/NEST OF BEES NOT ON OR IN A STRUCTURE:
Some cities and Vector Control Districts within Los
Angeles provide non-structural bee control at no charge
to the property.
your Zip Code to find out whether bee services are available
in your area and who to call.
can I avoid problems with AHB /what if I have other
To prevent AHB, do
"bee-proofing" around your property. This involves sealing
up all cracks and holes larger than 1/8 inch that lead
into a wall void, attic or subarea. This can be done
with stucco patch, caulking, and screen. Caulking now
comes in various colors so you don't have a bright white
stripe where the crack was. Most vent screens are normally
1/4 inch mesh. You can purchase 1/8 inch mesh hardware
cloth, cut pieces to size and fit them in behind the
existing vent screens. This does not involve major renovation
of your vents.
Remove or eliminate
junk piles, upturned pots, old bee equipment, or any
place that could offer a nice, sheltered place for bees
to set up housekeeping, become more aware of your surroundings
and watch for bee activity around your property. If
you spot some on your neighbor's property, let them
know. For additional information or our Speakers Bureau,
call the AHB Hotline: 1-800-BEE WARY (1-800-233-9279)
do I do if attacked? Do's and Don'ts.
During an attack:
- Do run. Run away as fast
as possible. Get into a building or vehicle if you
- Do try to cover your
face and head as you run.
- Do call 911.
- Do start removing stingers
from your skin once you are away from the bees.
You can remove them by scraping, pulling, or using
sticky tape. Do not leave the stingers in any longer
than necessary, as they will continue to pump venom.
- Don't stop to remove
stingers until you are safely away from the attacking
- Don't jump into water.
This only works in cartoons. The bees will see you
and wait for you to come up for air.
- Don't panic.
do the experts tell AHB from other bees?
At the local level,
a Fast Africanized Bee Identification System (FABIS)
test can be performed. Starting with a sample of 50
to 100 bees, 10 bees are randomly sorted. The right
wing is removed from each and mounted on microscope
slides, and the average wing length is calculated. If
the average wing length is over 9mm, the bees are European
Honey Bees. If the average wing length is under 9mm,
the bees are suspect Africanized Honey Bees. They are
only suspect AHB because there are some Egyptian Honey
Bees in the county that are a domesticated bee but are
slightly smaller that the EHB. Some EHB are also slightly
smaller than usual. The FABIS test is like the TB skin
test. If the test is negative, you do not have TB. If
the test is positive, you might have TB but need a more
sophisticated test to be sure.
If there is a need
to know for certain that the sample is AHB or not, e.g.,
a multiple stinging incident or death, the sample is
sent to the California Department of Food & Agriculture
(CDFA) for further testing. They can perform either
a DNA, or complete morphometrics test. The DNA test
compares the DNA from the sample to known DNA standards
to determine whether the bees are AHB or not. This test
can be done on a small sample size but not if the bees
were killed with certain pesticides. The chemicals used
to kill the bees interfere with the test. Complete morphometrics
can be used when the sample is contaminated with pesticides.
Complete morphometrics is a series of very precise measurements
of various parts of the bees in the sample. Some involve
lengths of specific body parts, some involve the angles
of wing veins. These measurements are then averaged
and compared to a standard. A complete morphometrics
test requires a larger sample size than the DNA test.
Both tests are quite accurate and are considered the
final word in AHB determination.
for additional information on AHB