Do You Know Your Honey Bees Honey?

Typically, we assume any bee is beneficial and I wish that were true. Unfortunately, like plants and many other things in nature, there are also invasive bees. These bees may be little impersonators as some may look just like or similar to honey bees. Classic right? Our number 1 guilty culprit to come to the stand is the Africanized Honey Bee. 

Honey Bee History

First, some honey bee history. Surprisingly, Honey Bees were actually brought to the U.S. in the 1600s. The Honey Bees were brought by European settlers and shortly after were one of the most economically beneficial insects. What made them so easy to manage was their gentle nature. So where did the Africanized Bees come from? Well, in 1956 researchers in Brazil wanted to attempt to make a honey bee that would be better suited for the tropics. Therefore, they imported honey bees from Africa to be bred with the European honey bees in hopes the African bees would lose their defensive nature. As you could probably tell, the opposite happened. Even worse, in 1957 20+ African queen bees escaped from the breeding program. As a result, the Africanized honey bees made their way to Central and South America and have made it to more southern states. 

European Honey Bees

The European honey bee has 3 castes; the workers, the queen and the males (drones). The worker bees are sterile females about 1/2inches long, covered with numerous hairs on their bodies and yellow and black in color. Also, they have 3 pairs of legs and two pairs of wings. In addition, on the hide legs there are pollen sacs that carry the pollen. Lastly, they have a stinger they helps them defend the colony. The queen is much larger, she does have. Stinger but barely used it. And last but not least, the drones are males with an abdomen that is thick and blunt at the end. Their job is to mate with an unmated queen from another colony. 

European Honey Bee
European Honey Bee

Behaviors of European Honey Bees

-European Honey Bees are more gentle and not as aggressive

-They may send out 10-20 guard bees in response to disturbances usually only up to 20ft away

-A disturbed colony may result in 10-20 Stings

-European bees will typically calm after 1-2 hours

-Swarm only once or twice a year in large swarms. In addition, Swarming occur when bees are looking for a new nest site

-As far as habitat, these guys are selective with their choice and prefer to be at least 3-4 feet above the ground where it is dry and like to be nested in protected locations where they are not exposed. 

Africanized Honey Bees

Africanized Honey Bees look very similar to the European Honey Bee. However, Africanized Honey Bees are slightly smaller in size. However, it is very hard to tell the difference and requires professional identification. Secondly, they are a golden yellow color with darker bands of brown. They do have the same castes as the European honey bees as mentioned above. Let’s dive into to behaviors!

Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized Honey Bees

Behaviors of Africanized Honey Bee

-They are very defensive and may send out hundreds of guard bees to respond to disturbances. 

-They stay agitated for a longer period of time and will pursue for a longer distance up to 120ft away. Once agitated, they will stay defensive for days

-A disturbed colony could potentially result in 100-1000 stings 

-Swarm 10+ times in a year and these swarms contain less bees

-They will nest in underground and high moisture cavities and typically in exposed locations

In conclusion, the only way to identify these is to bring in a professional. If you suspect you have aggressive bees try your best to stay away from them to limit the possibility of being stung or hurt. Luckily, RH Miller Pest Services is committed to your safety in and outside of your home.  Our process starts with a free estimate. Call our office today at 407-339-7119 to schedule your free, no obligation inspection and or treatment today. 

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