Honey bees – particularly those cultivated by professional beekeepers – are quite possibly the most crucial insect species we have. There is more to it than only the honey, too. According to the USDA, approximately one-third of our diet consists of crops which are pollinated by bees. Many plants would not produce fruit and vegetables if it were not for the work accomplished by honey bees.
Unless there’s a hive or colony located near pets or people, it’s better to leave well enough alone and allow the honey bees do their thing. If you discover a hive in a place that is troubling, a dependable exterminator can remove the colony or, in some instances, transfer it to a safer location.
With all that said, however, there are cases when bees can be a significant threat. “Killer” bees aren’t only a myth – they’re a true phenomenon called 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.
That is where the threat comes in. 1 bee sting, except in the rare case of a severe allergic reaction, isn’t dangerous. Since Africanized bees swarm in greater numbers and are typically a lot more competitive than ordinary honey bees, AHB swarms can easily inflict 100 or more bites in a frighteningly short period of time.
Even when they are not swarming, AHBs are more aggressive when it comes to protecting their dwelling. They knowingly guard their hives and, while they do not randomly attack humans and creatures they experience when collecting pollen, Africanized bees will attempt to bite”invaders” who come inside up to 100 feet of the colony. Regular honey bees rarely sting people who wander up to within 15 feet of the house, and even then they often won’t strike unless the hive itself is disturbed.
So how can you tell a standard honey bee and its hive from a single that is Africanized? You can not, which amplifies the danger. It has only been lately that federal and state officials have added Arkansas and Oklahoma to the list of regions that AHBs now occupy. They were found in southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas in 2005, but they have steadily moved into wider 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’re stung, RUN and do not stop running until you’re safely indoors or in another enclosure, such as your car.