We’ve all seen the news or read the articles about Africanized Honeybees, the so-called “Killer Bees”, invading the Southwestern United States. In August 2005, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that these bees are in Florida and they’re here to stay. In fact, several of the known African Bee colonies have been discovered in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties. The first colony was found at the Port of Tampa in 2002.
You may be wondering, “How did all this get started?” It all started when researchers brought African bees to Brazil in the 50’s for testing as pollinators and honey producers because of their hardiness in tropical environments. They had no idea of their aggressive nature and their ability to reproduce in great numbers. The experiment went awry and some escaped. The bees have been on the move ever since, taking over and breeding with the gentler European Honeybee. The result…Africanized Honeybees.
There are numerous pathways into Florida, including our ports. Many beekeepers rotate their hives to California and Texas to pollinate crops. This is another avenue of entry. No matter how they got here, they’re here and we must learn to live with them. As Africanized Honeybee populations increase, encounters will increase.
Make no mistake, this is a dangerous bee. However, let’s put it in perspective: Bees, (as well as wasps, hornets and yellow jackets) don’t normally attack people. They simply DEFEND THEIR TERRITORY.
If you disturb them, they’re gonna get ya! It is well known that European Honeybees are quite passive and it takes a lot to anger them. On the other hand, a lawn mower in operation several hundred feet from an Africanized colony could set them off. Many of us have encountered similar behavior from bald-faced hornets and yellow jackets. Yet, we’ve learned to live with them. Education and good “ole common sense” are the keys here.
What should you do if you accidentally encounter stinging bees, wasps, etc? The experts say…Run! Run in a zigzag manner. This helps confuse them. Cover your head with a shirt or something while running without blocking your vision. Seek shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle. Do not jump in a pond or pool, you’ll have to come up for air and they’ll be waiting for you.
If you find bees, wasps or any other stinging insects at your home, visit or call the Florida Pest Control branch nearest you or just click on the "Request Appointment" link above for a free no obligation pest inspection.