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Every once in a while, we read tragic stories about people being severely stung, or even stung to death by honey bees. And almost every time the media has to hype it as Killer bees.

Case in Point: Park Employees Attacked by Killer Bees.

The first thing that should tip you off, that you need to wait for further information, is when the story states that "someone accidentally disturbed a nest."

Honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, ants etc., will take aggressive, defensive measures if anyone or anything disturbs their nest. It doesn't matter if it's killer bees or Italian Honey Bees, or Yellow Jackets. This is how the world works.
The only way to conclusively know that a hive is comprised of killer bees, is to have a county extension do a DNA test on dead bees taken as samples. I put this out there because I don't want people thinking that every feral honey bee swarm they encounter is going to attack them on sight and crawl into their ears and eat their brain. {a little gallows humor there}

I have no idea if the bees that attacked the park employees were Africanized Bees or not. No mention was made of a DNA test that would conclude one way or the other. Irregardless I am glad that no one was seriously hurt or killed in this confrontation.

Follow me through the orange portal if you need more information on this topic.

One trait more common to Killer Bees, is to attack a person or an animal that hasn't disturbed their nest and didn't do anything that would normally piss a bee off [like swatting at it, or in the case of an animal, trying to eat it]. Africanized Honey Bees are usually much more territorial and aggressive, and will be more likely to attack perceived intruders long before the nest is physically disturbed. However, that being said, it has been noted that as the Hybrid bees keep intermixing with local domestic bee-races [breeding lines], that it isn't a foregone conclusion that the bees are going to be aggressive. Just like it's not a guarantee that all domestic bees are going to be docile. Beekeepers often re-queen what are called hot-hives. These are bee hives that have more aggressive behavioral traits than other domestic bees, and is an aspect of selective breeding.  

But if you accidentally back into a stump full of bees, or kick over a brick with wasps or bees in it, or something like that, don't be surprised if you get stung. Don't be surprised if you get stung a lot.

The reason that these insects attack when their nests are disturbed is due to the fact that all their babies are in that nest, along with their queen and their stores of food. If you destroy that nest, you effectively kill every bee in there, even if you don't swat it directly, because it will have no food, only the queen lays more worker eggs, and with no nest to return to, those genes just became a dead end, and that will be that.

Destroy the nest--esp with the queen in it, and you have killed every bee in that nest. They might not die right away, but they will die quickly and there will be no young bees to take their place, because there was no queen to lay eggs for continuing generations.

Never ever bother the nests of stinging insects without at least wearing the proper protective gear.

I am sure the people in this story disturbed the nest entirely by accident. Sometimes that happens. The chances of encountering Africanized Bees is higher in the South, and Southwest because they prefer warmer climates, and because these bees, when they originally escaped into the wild, migrated here from S. America. This preference or need for a warmer climate, has limited their spread, they do not and could not survive the winters of the Midwest and Northern states.

I found an interesting website by people who live and hike in Mexico, discussing their encounters with Africanized Bees. Note, they didn't have to kick over a tire or come close to any nest structure.

Bees instinctually target the eyes, nose, ears and face. If you lack a helmet and veil, the bees will sting your repeatedly in the head and upper trunk, and at some point this will cause your eyes to swell shut and then you are in big trouble.

If you are blind, escaping these insects is difficult or impossible, and the likelihood of you running into other objects or falling down in addition to being attacked--goes up. This is how people sometimes die in these confrontations.

They get stung repeatedly in the face, the flesh swells around their eyes, they are still being stung repeatedly which hurts like hell and is scary, and they run into a wall or tree, or fall over items in their path and hurt themselves, or knock themselves out, meanwhile more bees appear, just to sting the person, while they are down and unable to get back up.

I have read stories where people thought they could spray pesticides on an established colony in a wall and that would kill the bees--no problem.

There are so many bees in an established colony, that there is no way you can spray them all, instantly, with enough pesticide that you will not be attacked. A lot of the bees don't die instantly. That means they have enough time to commit one last kamikaze run on your head.

These people are attacked, and stung severely, and then the media calls this a "Killer Bee Attack" with no evidence that this was anything other than a case of someone disturbing a colony of bees.

If you have an established bee colony in your walls or barn, or whatever--call a beekeeper and pay to have them removed, or call a professional exterminator if you must, but don't attempt, what is essentially, a naked-DYI bee removal. It could be the last DYI project you ever do.

An established colony of bees can contain 20,000 to 80,000 adult bees. And it doesn't take nearly that many, to sting you into submission, much less, to death. It won't matter if they are "Killer Bees" or not. There is a reason that beekeepers wear Bee Suits when they work domestic bees. Even docile, gentle bees can sting if adequately disturbed.

A Bumble Bee or Yellow Jacket Nest can contain hundreds of individuals and they can sting you more than once. So don't be stupid. Take precautions. Protect yourself. Respect the Stinger. And just so you know, yellow jacket stingers can penetrate bee suits.

If you can see the entrance of a nest--where the bees go in and come out of a nest, do not stand in front of that--not even several feet back. Bees fly in a straight line and will bump into you. And that can increase the chances that you will get stung.

So--Recap:

All bees will become aggressive if you disturb their nest.

Bees tend to attack people and animals around the face and upper trunk.

Bees use pheromones to tell other bees to attack.

Wear proper protective gear or call a professional or at least an expert.

Africanized bees can only be identified via a DNA test, otherwise they are indistinguishable from other feral or domestic honey bees.

Do not knowingly stand directly in front of the entrance to a nest or hive--because that raises the possibility that you will be stung.

If you have an unwanted honey bee colony on your property, you can look for the following information online:

Local Beekeepers Associations
or your county extension might have what is called a swarm capture list, where you can call individuals who volunteer to remove unwanted honey bee swarms and honey bee colonies.

If you have bees in a wall in your house, you will probably have to pay to have them removed. This can be a dangerous job, so don't balk at the price.

I hope this clears some things up.

Be safe.

Update:

I am going to add some videos.

Native honey bees in S. America are stingless bees and are distinct from what we think of as a "honey bee" or Apis Mellifera. Honey Bees have not existed as an indigenous species of the Americas for millions of years. The honey bees we had prior to the Africanized Hybrids were brought here by colonists from Europe and technically, are an invasive species. However we depend upon them for our ability to pollinate domestic crops to produce more food, than would happen in nature without human agriculture on a commercial scale which includes the introduction of Apis Mellifera

This video is about apiculture in Florida, it speaks of the commercial value of bees, if you go to about 3:36, in the video, it talks about Africanized Bee. Otherwise the video is about 24 minutes long. This explains some of the differences of Africanized bees as opposed to European Bees, such as why they prefer warm climates and how that affects their behavior.

I found a video of African Wild Bees, in Africa, having a minor confrontation with a pride of lions. It's a clip from animal planet.

I can understand why African bees are so aggressive. They are preyed upon by so many different creatures, including humans. There are even birds that lead humans to honey bee colonies. The human takes the honey, and shares some with the bird.

Enjoy--be safe.

9:59 AM PT: Subterranean wanted to be sure that I adequately differentiated between honey bees and yellow jackets. I agree. Here are informational websites that will teach you the differences between those two insects, plus information on other kinds of bees.
http://beespotter.mste.illinois.edu/...
and
https://insects.tamu.edu/...

Originally posted to GreenMother on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:44 AM PST.

Also republished by Practical Survivalism and Sustainable Living and Community Spotlight.

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