Africanized Honey Bees

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Africanized Honey Bees (AHB's) get their name from their place of origin - Africa.  For research purposes with hopes of improving pollination, the bees were transported to many places around the world.  One of these places was near Sao Paulo, Brazil.  In 1957 an accidental release of 26 queen bees occurred there.  The bees found the climate in their new home favorable and were able to proliferate by hybridizing with European Honey Bees (EHB's).  Since then, they have dispersed over a vast area.  From Brazil they have moved north at the rate of about 100 to 200 miles per year, through Central America, Mexico and into the United States.  AHB's were first found in California in 1994 in the city of Blythe, and now inhabit the southern one-third of the state.  To date, AHB's have NOT been found in Sutter or Yuba Counties in California.  The Center for Invasive Species Research (CISR) is a website with excellent information about AHB's.

Differences between the Africanized honey bee and the European honey bee

  • AHB's will start a new nest much more frequently than other honey bees. The average amount is every 12 months. Africanized bees locate new locations every 6 weeks.

  • AHB's can become highly defensive in order to protect their hive and brood

  • AHB's will occupy a much smaller space than the EHB. Known AHB nesting locations include water meter boxes, metal utility poles, cement blocks, junk piles, and house eaves

  • AHB's "home turf" is also much larger than the European honey bee. AHB's have been known to pursue a perceived threat for a distance over 1/4 mile while EHB's will only attack you from a yard distance

  • Cannot survive extended periods of forage deprivation

AHB's are problematic not because of a "killer" sting, but because of the aggressive way in which they respond to disturbances around their nests.  They respond sooner to disturbances, stay agitated and attack for longer periods of time and chase an attack victim for longer distances than EHB's.  In almost 60 years of hybridization with resident EHB's in the western hemisphere, the AHB's aggressive behavior has not changed significantly.  Their sting and toxin is no more harmful or deadly than EHB's, but AHB's respond by sending most of the bees in the colony to attack and sting.  This can be thousands of bees.  A victim's reaction to an AHB attack varies depending on the number of stings received, the location of the stings and any special sensitivity that may have been developed by prior exposure to bee venom.  Most healthy individuals can tolerate many stings without serious effects.  A victim that receives hundreds or thousands of stings may exhibit toxic effects similar to a rattlesnake bite or may die.  Stings on the mouth or throat can result in swelling and cause a life threatening respiratory obstruction.</p>

AHB's and EHB's can only be distinguished by an extensive laboratory examination.  If you see or encounter a bee's nest or a swarm, stay away from it.  It may be an Africanized colony.  Immediately notify your county Agriculture Department.  Noise and vibrations from lawn mowers, weed eaters, odors from insecticides, physical contact, or motion in close proximity to a nest may elicit a defensive response from the bees.  If you are attacked, leave the area quickly.  Cover your face to protect your eyes and mouth.  Get into a shelter where bees cannot enter, such as a car or house.  Do not dive or go underwater.  AHB's have demonstrated tremendous patience in that they will wait for a victim to surface for air and then deliver stings to the mouth and face.  Individual bees can only sting once.   After stinging, a bee leaves the stinger and poison sac imbedded in the victim.  The poison emits an alarm pheromone (odor) that stimulates other bees to direct their sting in the same area of the victim's body.  It is important to remove these poison sacs as they continue to pump poison into your body after it has detached from the bee.  Don't pull the sac out with your fingers, that will squeeze more venom into you.  The sac should be scraped out with a dull edge by dragging the edge along your skin.  A credit card works well for this.  Victims of multiple stinging attacks need immediate medical attention.

Click here for more information on Africanized honey bee attacks and the differences from European honey bees.

Bill to Ban Beekeeping in Las Vegas Blasted in Legislature

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

Las Vegas Review-Journal By Bill Dentzer April 4, 2019

CARSON CITY — A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into — ahem — a swarm of opposition before a Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 389 would prohibit apiaries — places where bees are kept — in areas zoned for two or more residences per acre. Republican Sen. Keith Pickard, who co-sponsored the bill, presented it with an amendment limiting its application to the state’s existing Africanized bee quarantine zone in Southern Nevada, which covers all of Clark County and the southern sections of Nye and Lincoln counties.

Even so, the bill’s hearing before the Senate Natural Resources committee landed like swatting a hive with a stick, as beekeepers, conservationists and local officials stung it repeatedly with barbed criticism.

The only thing thicker than the buzzing of opposition in the committee room were the bee puns.

“I see the place is swarming,” Pickard said as he started his presentation.

The senator said the bill was in response to resident complaints of stings near a Henderson address, where the owner maintained 12 hives.

“They had essentially been driven indoors as their backyards had been overrun by the bees, presumably by the neighboring property,” Pickard said.

He acknowledged that the bees could have come from elsewhere. But, children and pets had been stung, and dogs and horses had died, he said, citing media reports as his source.

In recent years, only one person in the state has died from bee stings — a Las Vegas exterminator who was stung countless times in 2016 while removing a hive without protective clothing.

Whatever the number of apiphobes — people who fear bees — might exist in Henderson or elsewhere, they did not turn out Thursday to support Pickard’s bill, leaving him its lone advocate. Even with the amendment restricting the bill’s applicable area to Southern Nevada, beekeepers and others from Northern Nevada, speaking in Carson City, joined opponents testifying by video link in Las Vegas to denounce it.

They included David Sharpless, whose well-hived Henderson home was the original source of complaints that prompted the bill.

Amid discussion of the finer points and benefits of beekeeping and hive-tending, opponents said the threat of Africanized bees — known as “killer” bees — spreading to more areas was not the fault of local apiaries.

“If my family can use our yard without our bees bothering us, then so can my neighbors,” Sharpless said, adding it was “ridiculous to think that banning backyard hives is a solution to this problem in any way.”

The city of Henderson turned out to oppose the bill, noting a more comprehensive local ordinance it passed in August that regulates apiaries without banning them outright. Under the city’s rules, Sharpless is permitted just two hives on his property, and he has complied.

Pickard’s bill “is too restrictive and conflicts with the city’s goal of allowing apiaries in to a variety of neighborhood types,” Henderson planning manager Eddie Dichter told the committee. Other localities, including the cities of Las Vegas and Reno, agreed.

As the buzz died down, Pickard remained the bill’s unstung hero, saying regulation of apiaries was properly a state — not local — matter, and that the Henderson apiary in question was still out of compliance.

“This is response to a real problem where kids were being stung in their own yards,” he said.

Man Dies After Being 'Covered in Bees' While Removing Hive From Back Yard

ABC News By Julia Jacoba April 9, 2019

The man was covered in bees by the time deputies arrived.

Getty images

Getty images

An Arizona man has died after he attempted to remove a beehive from his backyard on his own, authorities said.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office was called to the man's home on Sunday evening after he had been stung multiple times, according to a press release. The man, identified as 51-year-old Epigmenio Gonzalez, was "covered with bees" in his front yard when deputies arrived, authorities said.

MORE: What to do in a bee attack: 5 things you need to know (July 20, 2018).

First responders then sprayed Gonzalez with water to allow medics to take him to the hospital. He later died at the Yuma Regional Medical Center, according to the sheriff's office. It is unclear how many times he was stung.

Deputies later learned that Gonzalez had tried to remove the hive from a couch behind his home before the agitated bees attacked.

A female at the home also was stung multiple times and was hospitalized, authorities said. Several deputies and other first responders were stung as well but did not require medical attention.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

Swarming Bees Kill Dog, Attack Two Women in Santa Clarita

ABC 7 Eyewitness News By John Gregory March 1, 2019

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- A dog was killed and two women and another dog were stung multiple times in an attack by a hive of killer bees in Santa Clarita. 

Patricia Wightman still has the welts from the attack on her face, her neck and shoulders. 

The bees took over a hive in a pepper tree in Wightman's yard. 

On Sunday, they first went after her neighbor, Jill Suleski, and her two dogs. 

Patricia jumped in to try to help them and was also attacked. 

Both dogs were stung dozens of times. 

Nicki was the lucky one, surviving the attack. 

But the venom from the stings proved to be too much for her smaller dog. Gabriel, who weighed about 45 pounds, passed away a few days after the attack. 

"They just kept coming and coming and coming. It was terrible," Suleski said. 

Jill feels horrible about the loss, but she also knows she is lucky to be OK. She is allergic to bees. 

Patricia jumped in to protect her, and despite being swarmed she was somehow able to reach firefighters for help. They first covered her with foam to try to smother the bees and then put her in the fire truck. 

"The fire department got a lot of them off my face, and they got 35 bees off my hair," she said. "And at the hospital they found one bee in my hair and they got 40 stingers out of my scalp." 

A beekeeper removed the hive and sealed the opening in the tree. 

After a visit to the emergency room both women are expected to be OK. But they will never forget Gabriel. 

They will also never forget the sound of a swarm of Africanized honey bees on the attack.

Africanized Honey Bees: Prevention and Control Africanized Honey Bees

Reminder from NC State Extension By Dr. David Tarpy Originally Published February 1, 2016

Africanized Honey Bees: Prevention and Control Africanized Honey Bees


For the past 50 years, the Africanized honey bee (sometimes referred to as the “killer” bee by sensationalist media stories) has been a public health concern in South and North America. Initially imported to Brazil in the mid-1950s, this invasive species spread northward into the United States by the early 1990s. While Africanized honey bees have not yet become established in North Carolina, their recent detection in Florida and other gulf-coast states makes their arrival in the coming years fairly likely.

To prepare for the introduction and possible establishment of the Africanized honey bees in this state, it is necessary for residents of North Carolina to become familiar with means of prevention and control of nuisance honey bee colonies. The following are some recommendations on how to reduce the chances of encountering Africanized bees, and what to do if they are encountered.

For Homeowners and the General Public

Africanized honey bees can be a public health concern because they are more likely to sting than “typical” honey bees. Like their European counterparts, however, Africanized honey bees will usually become defensive only when provoked or guarding their nest. Thus to prevent stings from honey bees, it is important to do two things. First, do not swat at bees flying around you, since it will likely provoke them and increase the chances that they will sting you. Second, reduce the likelihood that an Africanized honey bee colony will become established on your property by removing potential nest sites.

Means of prevention

“Bee-proof” your house. Most Africanized bees do not live in boxes managed by beekeepers, but rather in structures or other man-made cavities. With a little know-how, these potential nest sites can be removed or made unsuitable for bee habitation.

Carefully inspect your house and other structures for holes or cracks that could potentially lead to an internal cavity, wall space, attic, or crawl space, as bees can build their nests in any of these places. Prevent access to these areas by sealing the cracks with wire-mesh screen, caulk, or an expanding foam such as “Great Stuff” (Figure 1). Any gap greater than 1⁄8 of an inch could possibly provide access to bees, so be sure to seal any such crevice sufficiently to prevent bees from moving in.

Inspect other potential nesting sites around your house as well. In other regions of the country, Africanized bees have been known to inhabit such man-made cavities as tool sheds and water meters (Figure 2), since they often have small entrance holes and can provide an ideal space for a nest. Be sure to also clean up any junk piles or other debris that may create sheltered nesting sites. In particular, abandoned tires, over-turned flower pots, or inverted metal cans (Figure 3) serve as excellent nesting cavities for Africanized bees.

Check for unusual honey bee activity. A few dozen bees visiting your flower beds is very typical and indeed beneficial for your garden. Bees can also collect water from bird baths or swimming pools, particularly during the heat of the summer. However, if hundreds of bees are clustered together or seen entering and exiting a single hidden location, it may be a sign that a colony has become established. If you are unsure, call a local beekeeper to come investigate. Contact your local Cooperative Extension center for a list of potential local beekeepers. Established colonies are different from exposed “swarms” hanging off of a tree limb. Swarm clusters are bees in search of a new nesting site, and are usually much less defensive that those protecting a hive. As such, swarm clusters (either African or European) are not very defensive, and they will likely fly off to their new home within a couple of days. Again, contact a local beekeeper if you locate a bee swarm.

Don’t keep pets tied or tethered. If you have pets, livestock, or other animals living outdoors, you may consider taking precautions for them as well. Mass-stinging incidents of pets has occurred by Africanized bees in other areas of the country where the animals had no opportunity to escape or find shelter from pursuing bees.

Know the difference between honey bees and wasps. Many people mistakenly believe that anything that flies and potentially stings is a “bee.” As a result, many wasp species—such as yellow jackets, European or Japanese hornets, and bald-faced hornets—are often mistaken for honey bees. In fact, many of these wasps can be even more defensive than Africanized honey bees, and many of the preventative measures outlined above can help reduce the chances that they, too, may become established on your property.

Means of Control

Keep your distance. If you locate a nest on your property, note its location but don’t approach it. Bees and wasps are much more likely to react in defensive of their hive, so do not pose a threat to them.

Call a professional. Contact a licensed Pest Control Operator in your area. They will assess the problem, determine if they are honey bees or another species, and take appropriate action. If possible and appropriate, they will send in a sample of the bees to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services so that they can be diagnosed as Africanized honey bees or typical European honey bees. We do not recommend that you exterminate the bees yourself.

Remove the combs to prevent further damage. Fermenting honey and spoiling wax can harm the structure in which the nest was located, so it is important to remove the combs as well as the bees. This often involves removing walls to excise the nest, as well as repair work after the combs are removed. Because larger nests can do greater harm, it is best to deal with the issue sooner rather than later.

For mass stinging incidents or allergic reactions, call 911. In an emergency, seek immediate medical assistance. The fire department may respond with foam or surfactant spray to calmly and safely kill the stinging bees.

Figure 1. A “bee gap” around a water pipe. Seal the crack with wire mesh to prevent bees from moving in.

Figure 2. Water meters make good homes for bees.

Figure 3. Inverted pails or flower pots should be removed to eliminate potential nesting sites for bees.

Fig 1 2 3.jpg

For Beekeepers

Again, Africanized bees do not live in beehives but rather in natural or man-made cavities. As such, beekeepers are on the front lines in our attempts to reduce the impact of Africanized bees. In short, beekeepers are part of the solution, not the problem.

Means of prevention

  • Mark all queens with paint or numbered tags, no exceptions

  • Regularly check hives; don’t let them “feralize”

  • Properly store all bee equipment; don’t let swarms move into empty hives

  • Be on the look out for parasitic swarms (Africanized bees can invade a colony of European honey bees and take over the nest)

Means of control

  • Requeen any unusually defensive colonies and call your local NCDA&CS Apiary inspector so that they may take a sample

  • Soapy water in a spray bottle, rather than aerosol insecticide, is usually a better method to kill suspect bees if they become a nuisance

  • Educate public and other beekeepers about the benefits of honey bees and how to avoid contact with Africanized bees

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Stung By Swarm Of Bees In Lake Forest

ABC News    By Eileen Frere   July 16, 2018 

LAKE FOREST< Calif. (KABC) A woman is in critical condition after being stung hundreds of times by a swarm of bees in Lake Forest Monday morning.

The woman is believe to be in her early 50s and works as a housekeeper in the 23000 block of Buckland Lane, where the attack occurred, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. Authorities said she was stung about 200 times.

She was transported to Saddleback Hospital.

Four firefighters and the owner of the home where the possible hive was were also stung. Two of those firefighters, who were stung multiple times, are in stable condition at a hospital.

The homeowner, who only went by the name Sara, recalled the attack that sent her housekeeper Maria to the hospital.

"She was screaming and I was telling her, 'Move from the bees. Come over here.' But she was covering her head," she said.

Witnesses said another house cleaner grabbed a water house to try to get the bees off Maria, but it didn't work. That's when Sara's son called 911.

Another witness said Maria tried covering her head and face, but at one point the bees began stinging her head. Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said when crews arrived, she was completely covered in bees.

"Her face was completely covered with bees," he said. "They grabbed the first thing they could, which was a carbon dioxide extinguisher, sprayed the patient, tried to get as many bees as they could off her."

He added that the firefighters had no time to put on protective gear before trying to save Maria.

"It was so horrendous. It was awful. And I felt so powerless. There was nothing I could do," neighbor Cynthia Emmets said.

She said her dog ended up being stung as well.

A bee company arrived on the scene to determine the location of a hive and discovered 30,000 to 80,000 bees.

The beehive was discovered inside a gas meter next to Sara's home, according to Matthew Kielsmeier with Bee Busters, which removed a 10-pound hive from the location. Experts said it wasn't clear what prompted the attack, but that the hive had been at the home for about six months.

Sara, who had swollen marks on her forearms from the stings, said she'd noticed bees in the area, but didn't think anything of it at the time.

Experts warn that anyone who sees bees congregating for a period of time in a particular area should call a bee company to get it checked out.

The community HOA had not received any reports of bee problems in the area until this incident.

For more info on Africanized Honey Bees (aka Killer Bees), visit:  /africanized-bees/


What Turns Bees Into Killer Bees?     By Elizabeth Pennis      June 15, 2018

(Note:  "It is definitely worth keeping gentle behaving bees.  So much more pleasant to work with.  Just one behavior challenged hive in the apiary makes them all crazy." ~Bill Lewis, Owner Bill's Bees, 2014 President, California State Beekeepers Association, Past President, Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association.)

Brain protein fragments spur honey bees to be more aggressive. SOLVIN ZANKL/MINDEN PICTURESBiochemists have tracked down the brain chemicals that make so-called killer bees such ferocious fighters. The compounds, which seem to be present in higher levels in the much-feared Africanized honey bee, can make less aggressive bees turn fierce, according to a new study. The compounds may also play a role in aggression in other animals—indeed, they’ve already been shown to do so in fruit flies and mice.

“This is another example of how behavior evolves in different species by using common molecular mechanisms,” says Gene Robinson, an entomologist and director of the University of Illinois’s Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology in Urbana, who was not involved in the work.

Honey bees are incredibly territorial, fighting to the death to defend their hive with painful stings. But killer bees—hybrids of the relatively docile European strain of honey bee and a more aggressive African relative—are particularly fierce. The hybrids emerged after African bees were imported to Brazil in the 1950s. By the 1980s, they had spread north to the United States, outgunning resident honey bees along the way. Their massive attacks have killed more than 1000 people.

Mario Palma, a biochemist at São Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil, who studies social behavior in bees, wanted to understand the basis of this aggression. So he and his colleagues swung a black leather ball in front of an Africanized bee hive and collected the bees whose stingers got stuck in the ball during the attack. They also collected bees that remained in the hive. They froze both sets, sliced up their brains, and analyzed the slices with a sophisticated technique that identifies proteins and keeps track of where they are in each slice. The analysis revealed that bee brains have two proteins that—in the aggressive bees—quickly broke into pieces to form a so-called “neuropeptide,” they report this week in the Journal of Proteome Research.

Palma and his colleagues already knew that bee brains had these two proteins, allatostatin and tachykinin. “The surprise came out when we identified some very simple neuropeptides, which were produced in a few seconds” after his team swung the ball and triggered the attack, Palma says. The bees that remained in the hive did not make these neuropeptides, he reports. And when his team injected these molecules into young, less aggressive bees, they “became aggressive like older individuals.”

Researchers have found these molecules in other insects, where they seem to regulate feeding and digestion. But few had associated them with “fight” behavior, says Palma, who adds that they also increase the production of energy and alarm chemicals. They could also stimulate the nerve cells in bees needed to coordinate the stinging attack. “There is a fine biochemical regulation in the honey bee brain,” he says.

Palma’s preliminary studies indicate that Africanized honey bees produce more of these neuropeptides than other honey bees do. His team hopes to eventually use these insights to develop a way to protect people from these killer bees, perhaps through a spray or chemical plug that can be applied to a hive.

The studies may also further the understanding of how the production of how various neuropeptides regulate behavior not just in insects, but also in people, Palma suggests. “In neuroscience, there is still a big gap between understanding how molecular pathways and neural circuits work together to regulate behavior,” Robinson says. This work presents “a great way to bridge this gap.”

Related (posted June 9, 2018):

Inside The Brains Of Killer Bees

ACS News     Press Release     June 6, 2018

MALDI Imaging Analysis of Neuropeptides in Africanized Honeybee (Apis mellifera) Brain: Effect of Aggressiveness

Researchers shed light on how peptides can cause aggressive behavior in Africanized honeybees. Credit: Pommeyrol Vincent/ Journal of Proteome Research

Africanized honeybees, commonly known as “killer bees,” are much more aggressive than their European counterparts. Now researchers have examined neuropeptide changes that take place in Africanized honeybees’ brains during aggressive behavior. The researchers, who report their results in the Journal of Proteome Research, also showed they could turn gentle bees into angry ones by injecting them with certain peptides.

In the 1950s, researchers in Brazil bred Africanized honeybees by crossing European and African bees. In 1957, swarms of the bees were accidentally released, and they have been buzzing their way across the Americas ever since. Scientists currently don’t understand what makes these bees so aggressive, but the behavior appears to involve a complex network of genetic and environmental factors, regulated by neuropeptides. So Mario Sergio Palma and his colleagues wanted to examine neuropeptide differences between the brains of bees displaying aggressive and non-aggressive behavior.

The researchers stimulated Africanized honeybees to attack by hanging spherical, black leather targets in front of their colonies. Angry guard bees quickly attacked the targets, becoming embedded in the leather by their stingers. Meanwhile, gentler bees kept their distance. The researchers collected both groups of bees and analyzed their brains by mass spectral imaging. In the brains of aggressive bees, two longer neuropeptides were cleaved into shorter ones, but this did not happen in the gentler bees. The researchers then injected the shorter peptides into anesthetized, non-aggressive bees, which became combative upon waking. The study provides new insights into the neurological basis for aggressive honeybee behavior, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from the São Paulo Research Foundation and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.

Note: ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.

1M Aggressive Bees Threaten Texas Town

U.S. News   By Alexa Lardieri     April 12, 2018

Bee specialists were only able to remove a portion of the hive from the house. (KERSTIN KLAASSEN/GETTY IMAGES)A MILLION BEES HAVE invaded a Texas neighborhood, becoming aggressive this week as extractors attempted to remove them from a resident's home.

The colony of bees set up a hive in the wall of an El Paso home about three years ago, but the owners said the insects have only now caused trouble. According to KFOX-TV, the elderly couple who lives in the home said they are worried the bees might attack their neighbors, pets and children, who walk past the house.

Pyong Livingston, a bee specialist, attempted to remove the bees without killing them in an effort to relocate the hive. However, that appeared to have angered the colony. Rudy Reyes, a KFOX photojournalist recording the extraction, reported being stung eight times.

"I went on top of the roof. I went there with my camera and he [Livingston] was with his helper," Reyes said. "As soon as they got there and opened the roof … it was like a horror movie – seeing this swarm of bees just coming out in a black cloud. Within seconds, I started getting stung by bees. I got two in the eye, in the head."

Livingston identified the bees as Africanized bees, more commonly referred to as killer bees. They are a mix of Africanized and European bees and are "20, 30 times more aggressive than regular honeybees." He estimates there were about 1 million.

"We were swarmed. We found that as soon as we opened up a little area we thought there were maybe 20,000 bees, it turns out to be over 100,000 bees. So they swarmed us and they started biting me all over, even with the suits," Livingston told KFOX.

Although Livingston was able to remove a large part of the hive, bees were still at the house. For the entire hive to be extracted, the home's walls would need to be opened. The street is currently blocked off.

AB 861 (Dahle) Africanized Honey Bees

California Legislative Information   July 31, 2017

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed numerous bills into law, one of those being AB 861 (Dahle) Africanized Honey Bees. 

This bill would provide that a city, county, or city and county may, by ordinance, establish procedures for the abatement of a hive or comparable apparatus where Africanized or overly defensive honey bees are present. 

The California State Beekeepers Association thanks Assemblymember Dahle for all his work on our behalf. Please do you part in thanking the Assemblymember by calling, writing or sharing your "thanks" via social media.

Assembly Bill No. 861

An act to amend Section 29321 of, and to add Section 29322 to, the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to bees.

[ Approved by Governor  July 31, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  July 31, 2017. ]


AB 861, Dahle. Africanized honey bees.

The Apiary Protection Act specifies that any hive or comparable apparatus that is not occupied by a live bee colony and that is accessible to bees is a public nuisance and is subject to abatement in a specified manner.

This bill would provide that a city, county, or city and county may, by ordinance, establish procedures for the abatement of a hive or comparable apparatus where Africanized or overly defensive honey bees are present. The bill would provide that, in the absence of a local ordinance, if a county agricultural commissioner determines that the presence of Africanized or overly defensive honey bees in a hive is a public nuisance, the county agricultural commissioner may take any action necessary to abate the public nuisance, as specified. The bill would also delete a provision specifying that if a county agricultural commissioner determines that any bees present in an abandoned hive or comparable apparatus are not aggressive and harbor no diseases, the abandoned hive or comparable apparatus shall not be deemed a public nuisance. To the extent the bill would impose additional duties on county agricultural commissioners, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.

Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: yes  


Section 29321 of the Food and Agricultural Code is amended to read:


Any hive or comparable apparatus that is not occupied by a live bee colony, and that is accessible to bees, is a public nuisance. The hive or apparatus shall be subject to abatement in the manner provided for in Article 14 (commencing with Section 29200).

SEC. 2.

Section 29322 is added to the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:


 (a) The governing board of a city, county, or city and county may, by ordinance, establish procedures for the abatement of a hive or comparable apparatus where Africanized or overly defensive honey bees are present.

(b) In the absence of a local ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (a), if a commissioner determines that the presence of Africanized or overly defensive honey bees in a hive is a public nuisance or if Africanized or overly defensive honey bees from a hive are entering land other than the land upon which the hive is located so as to endanger the public health, safety, or welfare or so as to create an unreasonable interference with the use of the property of others, the commissioner may take any action necessary to abate the public nuisance, including, but not limited to, moving, selling, destroying, or otherwise disposing of the infested hive in accordance with local administrative procedures.

SEC. 3.

If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

Africanized Honey Bees

University of Georgia Extension By Keith S. Delaplane


Honey Bees in the New World

History of Africanized Honey Bees

Differences Between Africanized and European Bees

Potential Range of Africanized Bees in the United States

Safety Precautions

If You Are Attacked

After an Attack

The Role of Beekeepers

Tips for Beekeepers

Honey bees are among the most well-known and economically important insects. They produce honey and beeswax, and pollinate many crops. In Georgia, a large segment of the beekeeping industry produces queens and package bees for sale to other beekeepers. Although many people make a living from bees, most beekeepers are hobbyists with only a few hives.

Honey Bees in the New World
Honey bees are not native to the New World. Most of them are descendants of bees brought to North America and South America by European settlers beginning in the 1600s. Bees from Europe did well in North America, so most areas of the United States today have managed and wild honey bee colonies of European descent. European honey bees were not as well adapted to tropical and subtropical Latin America and can be maintained there only with special care.

History of Africanized Honey Bees
In 1956, researchers imported honey bees from Africa into Brazil in an effort to improve beekeeping in the New World tropics. These African bees were well suited to conditions in Brazil, and they began colonizing South America, hybridizing with European honey bees (hence the name “Africanized” honey bees) and displacing European bees. Compared to European bees, Africanized honey bees are much more defensive. Large numbers of them sometimes sting people and livestock with little provocation. They are also occasionally known to take over European bee colonies by entering them and killing the resident queen. Because of these noxious behaviors, many beekeepers abandoned beekeeping, and the media widely publicized these so-called “killer bees.”

The bees spread northward at a rate of about 200 to 300 miles per year, and today every country in Latin America except Chile has established populations of Africanized honey bees. In October 1990, the first natural colony of Africanized honey bees was found in the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. In subsequent years the bees moved in a westerly manner, eventually occupying much of the American Southwest and the southern counties of Nevada and California. By the summer of 2005, Africanized bees were confirmed east of the Mississippi with established populations in Florida.

In spite of the alarm surrounding Africanization, these bees have not caused widespread or permanent chaos. Dramatic stinging incidents do occur, but the quality of life for most people is unaffected. Typically, the commercial beekeeping industries of Africanized areas suffer temporary decline and then eventually recover.

Differences Between Africanized and European Bees
European honey bees are adapted to winter survival, largely because of their ability to collect large honey supplies. Africanized bees, on the other hand, do not overwinter well and respond to food shortages by migrating. European bees make large, permanent colonies whereas Africanized bees make small to large colonies that reproduce (swarm) often. The table outlines some of the differences between the two types of bees.




open, exposed nests



location of nests

variable; any kind of cavity including in-ground animal nests, which increases likelihood of human contact

prefer larger cavities, bee hives, hollow trees, hollow walls; rarely in ground

tendency to abandon nest



swarming rate



stinging behavior

intense; can defend nest at distances of up to 100 yards

moderate to mild; defend nest from 1-20 yards

body size

about 10-20% smaller than European


development time for worker bee

19-20 days

21 days

honey production

acceptable once beekeepers adapt

industry standard


effective pollinators but risky for farm laborers

industry standard

tolerance of mechanized handling

acceptable if beekeeper limits hives to one per stand or pallet; netting essential

industry standard

Potential Range of Africanized Bees in the United States

As Africanized bees expand into temperate areas, their tropical adaptations are less advantageous. Cold weather seems to limit both their defensiveness and overwintering capacity. Africanized bees are more defensive in warm tropical regions and less so in cooler zones. In South America the bees do not overwinter south of 34 degrees S latitude, which corresponds roughly to Atlanta, Georgia. (Please note, however, that Africanized bees are found north of this latitude in the American West.)

In areas where their ranges overlap, African- and European-derived bees interbreed, causing “hybrid zones” where bees share African and European traits. In Argentina, Africanized bees dominate in the northern semitropical regions but European bees dominate in the southern temperate areas; the area in between (ca. 32-34 degrees latitude) is a hybrid zone where bees have varying degrees of African or European traits. A similar pattern may occur in the United States, with African traits dominating in southern regions.

Safety Precautions
If and when Africanized bees reach your area, don’t panic. Just as you should look out for fire ants and poisonous snakes, however, stay alert for wild bee colonies when you are outdoors. Remember these points:

Never knowingly approach an occupied bee nest. During daylight hours bees can be seen flying to and from their entrance.

Do not disturb a swarm of bees. Call a professional bee removal service, the fire department, or your county Extension agent for help removing it.

Never climb a tree, kick a log or stump, or move trash until you first check if bees are flying in and out.

Keep an escape route in mind. Never crawl into an enclosed place from which you cannot quickly exit.

Operators of open-cab tractors are especially at risk from hidden in-ground colonies. Keeping a veil on hand is a good safety precaution.

If You Are Attacked
Run away or get indoors as fast as possible if you are attacked. Never stand in one spot and swat because this only aggravates bees further and increases the number of stings you may receive. Be aware that bees may follow you for hundreds of yards. Do not stop running to hide yourself under water or in leaves, brush or a crevice because bees are likely to find you and inflict numerous stings. The single most important thing is to get away from the colony!

After an Attack
When a bee stings, the stinger and poison sack remain in the skin of the victim, even after the bee flies away, and venom continues to be pumped into the skin. After you have safely escaped the bees, remove stingers from your skin by scraping or brushing them out. The venom of a single Africanized bee sting is no more toxic than a European bee sting (in fact, it’s a little less so). The difference is a matter of dose. Instead of a dozen or so stings, victims of Africanized bees can sustain hundreds of stings. Most people can tolerate 15-25 stings without requiring special medical treatment. Pain, redness and swelling are normal at a sting site and this does not constitute an allergic reaction. People with a history of systemic allergic reactions (fainting, trouble breathing), however, should always carry with them an emergency kit of injectable epinephrine, use it if they are stung, and then immediately see a physician. Anyone who receives more than 15-25 stings should seek medical supervision for possible delayed systemic complications.

The Role of Beekeepers
Beekeepers are the best defense Americans have against Africanized honey bees. Citizens and lawmakers need to understand this. In the fear that accompanies the arrival of Africanized bees, some groups may want to ban beekeeping in their municipalities. Without beekeepers, the density of docile European bees in an area will decrease, leaving that area open to infestation by Africanized bees. It is equivalent to “abandoning territory to the enemy.” Only beekeepers have the knowledge and resources to maintain high densities of European bees that can genetically dilute Africanized populations.

Tips for Beekeepers
If Africanized bees move into an area, beekeepers will have to change their management habits. If you keep bees in an Africanized area, observe the following precautions:

Register every colony with the state Department of Agriculture.

Re-queen a colony with European stock any time it becomes unusually defensive.

Mark queens so you can later confirm their identity.

Do not place hives near penned animals, sidewalks, playgrounds or similar high-traffic areas.

Plant bushes or place barricades around the edges of apiaries. This forces bees to fly above head level and reduces the chance of them flying into people or livestock.

Keep colonies at least 2 yards apart to discourage disturbed bees from exciting neighboring colonies.

Beekeepers may need to re-think the practice of combining several hives on a pallet because the vibration from working one hive disturbs them all. For this reason, beekeepers in Latin America have switched to single hive stands.

Use plastic-coated gloves instead of leather; bees will sting leather and the embedded stingers contain alarm chemicals that further aggravate the bees.

Use white-faced veils instead of black. Africanized bees are attracted to dark objects, and a white outer surface minimizes bees massing on the veil and obstructing your vision. The interior side of the netting should be black to minimize glare.

Smoke hives heavily before entering them; the bees are difficult to calm once angered.

Acknowledgments: Gratitude is expressed to David De Jong, Ph.D., University of São Paulo, Brazil, and Eric Mussen, Ph.D., University of California, who made useful comments on this document. 1Professor of Entomology

Status and Revision History
Published on Mar 15, 2006
In review as of Jan 5, 2010
Re-published on Mar 25, 2010
Reviewed on Jan 27, 2013
Reviewed on Jan 27, 2014

Two Women Stung By Swarm of Bees While Hiking in Mission Trails

FOX 5 News    By Shelly Wilford    May 11, 2017

Two women hiking Mission Trail were stung by a swarm of bees on May 11, 2017.SAN DIEGO – Two women hiking in Mission Trails Regional Park were repeatedly stung by a swarm of bees Thursday morning.

The women were hiking in the western area of the park near Tierrasanta with a dog when they were stung.

Paramedics were at the scene assisting the women. It’s not known if the dog was also stung.

Check back for more information on this developing story.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists the following precautions to protect yourself from bees:

Stay away from honey bee colonies.

Africanized honey bees sting to defend themselves or their nest.

If you can avoid disturbing them in any way, they usually will not sting.

To avoid approaching a nest by accident, listen for the steady buzz produced by a colony and look for flying insects

Look for bees to nest in cavities such as holes in the ground, crevices in rocks, hollow trees, discarded tires, saguaro cactus cavities, or water meter boxes.

Homeowners commonly encounter colonies when doing yard work.

Do not climb a tree, kick over a log or roll over a rock without checking first for bees.

If you do see a colony, do not stand in front of the entrance or in the flightpath.

Treat honey bee colonies as you would any other venomous creature, such as a snake or a scorpion.

Be alert and stay away!

Wear appropriate clothing.

When hiking or hunting in the wilderness, wear light-colored clothing.

The animals most likely to attack a bee colony are skunks and bears, so honeybees respond most violently to anything that is dark-colored or fuzzy.

Wear white socks, because honey bees are known to sting the ankles of persons wearing dark socks.

Always wear full-length pants when hiking and long-sleeved shirts if possible.

Avoid wearing shiny jewelry and leather, which attract bees.

Avoid wearing perfumes or scents.

Bees are sensitive to odors such as perfumes, soaps, after-shave lotions, and hair spray. These odors may either attract or provoke bees. Even sunscreens may have odors that increase your chances of an attack.

Avoid excessive motion when near a colony.

Bees are able to detect movement, and are much more likely to respond to an object in motion than one that is stationary.

Avoid flailing your arms or swatting at bees.

Do not panic if you spot a bees’ nest, just move away slowly and deliberately.

Avoid operating any machinery (mowers, line-trimmers or chain saws) near nests.

If you are attacked by several bees, then the best strategy is to run to shelter as quickly as possible.

(Note: For more information on Africanized Honey Bees see our LACBA Africanized Honey Bees Page: /africanized-bees/)

Ceres Bee Colony Attacks Beekeeper, Neighbor, Two Dogs

Fox 40     April 3, 2017

CERES -- A driveway covered with more than a dozen dead bees, a reminder of the night 45 Ceres families had on Sunday.

“They’re bizarre, they’re flying around in motion so you don’t see that around this area,” neighbor Edgar Lopez said.

Sunday night on River Valley Circle, the issue turned deadly. Ceres Fire investigators said a swarm of bees went after their owner.

“For an unknown reason, unknown to him or to us, when he attempted to harvest the honey the bees became very aggressive,” said Battalion Chief Rich Scola with the Ceres Fire Department.

Also caught in the attack, a neighbor and his two pit bulls and a firefighter. All the men are OK but the bee stings killed one of the dogs.

Chief Scola said the bee owner was trying to harvest honey when the swarm grew angry. He said that beekeeping is only allowed in the city with a special permit.

“It’s a weird situation you normally don’t hear stuff around… stuff like that around this area,” Lopez said.

Families were warned to stay indoors because of the danger.

Jon Campidonica said one of those angry bees flew toward his neck while he was in his backyard.

“Basically, I kind of killed it. But I could already tell the stinger was out,” Campidonica said.

A bee specialist was called and he took care of the thousands of bees within five hours. They were euthanized in a rural area.

“To make sure that if there was any aggressive nature within that colony that they were destroyed and they were not able to repopulate somewhere else,” Scola said.

Scola added the other dog was rushed to a pet hospital in Modesto. They are not aware of the animal’s latest condition.

He also stressed that if you see a bee hive, do not destroy it, spray water on it, or touch it. Please call a professional beekeeper.

The Ceres Police Department said they will not seek charges against the beekeeper.

Boy Swarmed By Bees Taken To Phoenix Hospital

GilaValleyCentral    By Jon Johnson   February 21, 2017

Child Stung More Than 400 Times

Contributed Photo/Courtesy 3TV/CBS5 News: From left, grandparents Petrea and Kreg Kunz watch over 11-year-old Andrew Kunz at the Phoenix Children's Hospital. Andrew was stung more than 400 times in a killer bee attack Monday.

GRAHAM COUNTY – An 11-year-old boy who was swarmed by likely “killer” Africanized bees early Monday evening is being treated at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for more than 400 stings.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Andrew Kunz was still in the pediatric intensive care unit but has had his intubation tube removed and indicated he was hungry, according to his grandmother, Petrea Kunz. She said he is very traumatized by the event, but he is responding well to treatment and they are hopeful he will be transferred to a step-down room later that day or the next. Petrea considers Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham, who pulled Andrew out of harm’s way, as their savior and that Andrew would have died in that wash if not for his and other first responders’ efforts.  

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Petrea Kunz: Andrew Kunz had to be initially intubated after being stung more than 400 times. He is also allergic to all stinging insects.

Two members of the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Jacob Carpenter and deputy Justin Baughman, along with Bingham were taken to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for multiple bee stings they suffered while rescuing Andrew. The first responders were treated and released. Carpenter was reportedly stung approximately 20 times, Bingham was hit 25-30 times, and deputy Baughman was stung about 100 times. The following day, Gila Valley Central caught up with Baughman who said he was no worse for wear. He declined to comment further at that time saying only that he was just doing his job.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: The beehive was located in this rusted car used as erosion control.

Graham County Dispatch directed first responders to the area of a residence in the 1600 block of Sunset Boulevard at about 5:26 p.m., Monday, after Petrea Kunz called regarding her grandson, Andrew Kunz, being attacked by bees. The area is in between Airport Road and E. Graham Canal Road. 

The danger for Andrew was intensified because he was previously stung more than 90 times by ants when he was in Kindergarten and was found to be allergic to any stinging insect and carried an Epinephrine Auto-Injector (EpiPen) with him.

“He is actually our little miracle guy,” Petrea said. “He is still hurting. They are going to check his eyes. They think they may have been scratched from the stingers, (and) we’re still watching to see if the venom is attacking the red blood cells and if its attacking his muscles.” 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Petrea Kunz: Andrew Kunz suffered more than 400 bee stings.

Petrea said Andrew yelled for help as he was being attacked but they couldn’t find him. At that point, a 9-year-old boy arrived and said he was with Andrew when they were attacked by bees in a gully in the desert behind the residence.

After calling 911, Petrea said Andrew called her phone and was telling her, “help me, help me. The bees are killing me.”

She then was able to hear the general direction where he was and could see he was having difficulty climbing back up the hill to the residence. Officers then arrived, and Petrea directed them to her grandson, but they could not reach him. Bingham arrived soon after and helped Andrew away from the area.

“Everybody did a great job,” Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred said.

The bees had taken up residence in an old, rusted out car that was presumably placed in the gully with other vehicles to act as erosion control. It was later learned that the boys had been shooting a BB-gun at the car and the sound of the BBs against the rusted metal is believed to be what set the bees in attack mode.

Jon Johnson/File Photo: Safford Fire Chief
Clark Bingham is being hailed as a hero.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: The beehive was located in this rusted out old car.

Sgt. Carpenter and deputy Baughman were the first on the scene and spotted Andrew in the gully but were unable to get to him as the bees began to attack them as well. They retreated approximately 150 feet from their previous viewpoint and they and other deputies guided Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham, who was not in a bee suit, to where the boy was engulfed in bees. Bingham picked up Andrew and tried to get him away from the bees.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: This bee was located near where the incident took place. There are still numerous bees in the area foraging for food, but they are not swarming.

“He was kind of disoriented and just kind of standing there, (so) I grabbed him by the belt and the arm and we started running down the wash,” Bingham said. “I told him ‘we have to get out of here. Nobody can help us where we are,’ so we tried to climb the hill but he didn’t have the strength to do it, and I couldn’t carry him up it. We continued down the wash until we got to the fire training center.”

It was roughly a 200-yard trek through the desert to E. Graham Canal Road, where the Safford Fire Department Training Center is located. While en route to the road, other firefighters in bees suits arrived and began to battle the bees. Andrew was then loaded into a Lifeline Ambulance and taken to MGRMC.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Safford Fire Chief Clark Bingham managed to get Andrew Kunz to the Safford Fire Department Training Center, which just happened to be at then end of the wash where the attack took place.

“What Clark did was exactly what needed to be done to get him (Andrew) away from them,” Petrea said. “Clark Bingham is very much our hero. He was willing to give his life for Andrew’s. That’s the true meaning of a hero.”

After initial treatment, Andrew was intubated and flown to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Bingham, Carpenter and Baughman were all treated for bee stings and released. The 9-year-old boy was taken to MGRMC by his family, where he was treated and released. Additional first responders at the scene included the Safford Police Department and a rescue aid team from Freeport McMoRan Inc., which transported Bingham to the hospital.

Bingham said he is also allergic to bees and the last time he was stung he began to swell up pretty bad. This time, the treatment of Benadryl and a steroid at the hospital stopped that from happening.

“I am grateful for that,” he said.

Safford Fire used soapy water on the hive and extinguished as many as they could. The following day, Mark Curley, owner and operator of Rattlesnake Exterminating, went to the site and treated it with chemicals so the bees wouldn’t return. When he arrived, he reportedly saw hundreds of bees still around the hive.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Rattlesnake Exterminating went back the next day to make sure the remnants of the hive didn’t restart the colony.

“He just wanted to make sure that he took care of those for those in the neighborhood and the family,” Curley’s wife, Wendi Curley said. “There’s a lot of kids and people up there, so he just wanted to check it and make sure the bees wouldn’t come back.”

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: This different type of bee was found across the street at a residence under renovation.

The unseasonably warm weather has brought the bees out to thrive and Rattlesnake Exterminating has been seeing an increase in calls.

“They’re starting to come out, so be careful.”

The local branch of Sodalicious is doing a fundraiser to help the family with expenses. Petrea said Andrew loves the beverage store and enjoys the Eagle Scout drink. She added that the whole family is grateful for all the well wishers and prayers and credit that for his speedy recovery.

The fundraiser at Sodalicious will be Monday, Feb. 27. The location will donate 10 percent of its sales for the entire day to the Kunz family. Additionally, it will have  firefighter’s boot on the counter for donations, which will all go toward the family, according to manager Hope Maxwell.

“With the way that he is healing, we truly feel the prayers of the community,” Petrea said. “We are so grateful he is alive, again, that’s Clark Bingham. He truly is on a huge pedestal in our family, as a matter of fact, we have decided that he’s part of our family whether he likes it or not.”

What to do if attacked by Africanized honeybees:

1. Run away quickly. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need some assistance.

2. As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting the sensitive areas around your head and eyes.

3. Do not stop running until you reach shelter, such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows. Do not jump into water. The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped for some reason, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes or whatever else is immediately available.

4. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement, and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract more bees.

5. Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honeybee stings, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the honeybee so it can’t sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter the wound for a short time.

6. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

7. If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage that person to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue the person yourself. Call 9-1-1 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area have probably been trained to handle bee attacks.

8. If you have been stung more than 15 times or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1,100 stings.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

[NOTE: You can read more about Africanized Honey Bees on our LACBA Africanized Honey Bee page: /africanized-bees]



The Nicaragua Bee Project

CATCH THE BUZZ    August 24, 2016

Have you ever wondered what an Africanized bee colony looks like? Have you ever wanted to see how beekeeping occurs in a developing country?

Well, now is your chance.

The Nicaragua Bee Project is traveling down to Nicaragua on October 22 through November 5, 2016 to conduct training workshops for new and existing beekeepers.

This trip will be led by Dr. Michael Bauer, a beekeeper from Waupaca, WI. He has been in Nicaragua several times to teach, train and start beekeeping groups. You will have the opportunity to travel with Dr. Bauer to Nicaragua and visit beekeeping activities in Nicaragua. You can either observe or even teach some of the training programs depending upon your desire and willingness.

You can travel for one or two weeks depending upon your availability.

Your cost for this trip is your airfare and food. Lodging (double room) and transportation and translations will be provided by the Nicaragua Bee Project. Current round-trip flights from Chicago to Managua are approximately $700. Food will run you $20 a day.

You need only a valid US passport to travel to Nicaragua. No visa is needed.

You will also have opportunity to travel about the country of Nicaragua, meet local beekeepers and rural families in their homes, visit a volcano, tour historic cities and artisan markets as well as enjoy local food, drink and culture.

For information on the Nicaragua Bee Project you can visit

For more information on the trip you can contact:

Marty Havlovic


Summer Safety: How to Avoid Bee-Swarm Attacks

Scientific American   By Osha Gray Davidson   June 13, 2016    

Hard as it may be to resist, do not swat at the bees that come at you

Honeybee on a brittlebush. Credit: Osha Gray DavidsonOn a late May morning a pair of young hikers were walking along a popular desert trail near Mesa, Ariz., when they heard the buzzing of honeybees. The hikers, Alex and Sonya, were unaware that they had happened upon an extraordinarily large hive, which experts later estimated contained about 50,000 Africanized honeybees. The bees gather nectar from the carpet of wildflowers that covers the desert floor, peaking in May and June, supporting colonies that quickly grow from a few thousand individuals to 10,000 bees or more.

The bees would not have begun stinging immediately, according to Carl Olson, an entomologist at the University of Arizona. “Honeybees are pretty good at warning people away,” he says. “Just as a rattlesnake will vibrate its tail as a warning, the first honeybees out of a hive will bump the person invading, saying ‘Leave!’.”

Sonya, who lived and often hiked in the area, had moved farther down the trail and took off running. But Alex, a visitor from North Dakota, may have swatted the bees. Swatting is a natural human reaction, but arm-waving and slapping at bees can turn a chance encounter into an attack, says Justin Schmidt, an insect behaviorist at the Tucson-based Southwest Biological Institute and author of the recently published book,The Sting of the Wild.

“Bees don’t form images in the same way that humans do,” he explains. “They use vision primarily to detect motion, and quick or jerky movements near a nest are interpreted as a threat.” The bees respond by stinging, injecting a venom consisting primarily of the peptides melittin and phospholipase.

Once embedded in the skin stingers also release tagging pheromones, potent chemical signals that attract and arouse other bees. When released near a colony, these pheromones can provoke a massive defensive swarm from the females guarding the nest. “The chemical signal says, ‘Here, sisters, here is where I found a chink in the armor of this big attacking predator,’” Schmidt says. “It really arouses them.”

Running and taking cover inside a park restroom probably saved Sonya’s life. But her friend wasn’t so fortunate. Rescuers found Alex on the ground near the hive, covered with bees. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but the young man soon succumbed to the toxic effects of more than 1,000 stings.

Following the tragedy, the local sheriff told reporters “these attacks are becoming more frequent.” That’s possible, Schmidt says. After all, cities are expanding into previously undisturbed areas and more people are out hiking than ever before. But, as Schmidt points out, claims that mass envenomations—the technical term for large-scale bee attacks—are on the rise are purely speculative. “No one is keeping track,” he says. “We simply don’t have databases with that kind of information.”

The threat from Africanized honeybees has been exaggerated since the European-African hybrids escaped from hives in Brazil in the 1950s, reaching Texas three decades later and spreading throughout the Southwest, where the hot, dry conditions allow them to thrive. Investigators first thought that an Africanized honeybee sting was more lethal than that of other bees. But in 1989 Schmidt co-authored a study in Nature that found no difference in the lethality of the venom from various honeybee subspecies. The authors concluded: “Perhaps use of the popular term ‘killer bee’ to describe the Africanized bee is inappropriate.”

Although fatal encounters with hikers are extremely rare, Schmidt has a few simple suggestions to ensure safe hiking in areas where bees are likely present:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. Honeybees have evolved to recognize threats from predators like bears, honey badgers and other dark-furred mammals. Also avoid the color red, which appears black to bees.
  • Never approach or disturb a nest. If you notice bees entering or exiting a rock crevice, a hole in the ground or a tree cavity, assume there’s a nest present and leave the area immediately.
  • Pay attention to bee behavior. If bees fly into you or begin to swarm over or around you, they are probably trying to warn you off. Remember: don’t swat at the bees, just leave.
  • If you accidently disturb a nest, run immediately. Try to get to an enclosed shelter (such as a car) or run until the bees stop following you. It may be necessary to get a quarter mile or more away from where the attack began. Cover your face with whatever is handy, if you can do so without impairing your vision.
  • Never jump into a body of water to escape bees. They will wait for you to surface. Schmidt points to a case in which a swarm of bees hovered for hours over a man in a lake, stinging him whenever he came up for air. (The man survived only because the bees returned to their hive after sunset.)

Schmidt warns that some commonly seen tips for avoiding bee attacks may appear reasonable but have no scientific basis. “You often read things like ‘avoid floral-scented perfumes and deodorants,’ but that’s a bunch of malarkey,” he says. “The primary sensory modality for insects is odor but there is absolutely no experimental evidence that smelling like a flower attracts bees.”

Fortunately, avoiding potentially dangerous interactions with bees is straightforward. “Just be sensible for heaven’s sake,” Schmidt advises. “Pay attention to posted warnings. Wear light colors. And if you see bees, get away from them.”

TIPS: What To Do If Attacked By Africanized Honey Bees

We posted these tips a few weeks ago, but in light of the recent deadly bee attacks in Arizona, here's a repost: 
The LACBA does not endorse the keeping of Africanized Honey Bees. It may be inexpensive to catch a feral hive and keep it. If you do so, and do not adhere to best management practices, you could be endangering others and/or their animals. Come to our LACBA meeting tonight and learn more about keeping bees responsibly. /meetings/ Or join our LACBA Beekeeping Class 101…/ Learn more about AHB here:

KRON4  By Mario Sevilla   May 15, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — On Friday night, a swarm of aggressive bees attacked several East Bay residents. Two dogs were killed in the attack and several people suffered multiple stings.

The incident happened in Concord, but it’s been known for sometime that an African breed of honeybees, also known as killer bees, had made its way into the Bay Area.

UC San Diego researchers have been tracking the bees’ movement throughout California. Until now, the bees had only been detected in Mariposa County, just east of Merced.

Now, apparently because of warmer temperatures, they have been found in the East Bay, first spotted in a Lafayette subdivision reported in September 2015.

Below is a list from the United States Department of Agriculture that explains what you can do if you ever encounter an attack by bees.

What to do if Attacked by Africanized honey bees

Remember these important steps:

1. RUN away quickly. Do not stop to help others. However, small children and the disabled may need some assistance.

2. As you are running, pull your shirt up over your head to protect your face, but make sure it does not slow your progress. This will help keep the bees from targeting the sensitive areas around your head and eyes.

3. Continue to RUN. Do not stop running until you reach shelter, such as a vehicle or building. A few bees may follow you indoors. However, if you run to a well-lit area, the bees will tend to become confused and fly to windows.Do not jump into water! The bees will wait for you to come up for air. If you are trapped for some reason, cover up with blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, or whatever else is immediately available.

4. Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that will attract more bees.

5. Once you have reached shelter or have outrun the bees, remove all stingers. When a honey bees stings, it leaves its stinger in the skin. This kills the honey bee so it can’t sting again, but it also means that venom continues to enter into the wound for a short time.

6. Do not pull stingers out with tweezers or your fingers. This will only squeeze more venom into the wound. Instead, scrape the stinger out sideways using your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, a dull knife blade or other straight-edged object.

7. If you see someone being attacked by bees, encourage them to run away or seek shelter. Do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Call 911 to report a serious stinging attack. The emergency response personnel in your area have probably been trained to handle bee attacks.

8. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or are feeling ill, or if you have any reason to believe you may be allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. The average person can safely tolerate 10 stings per pound of body weight. This means that although 500 stings can kill a child, the average adult could withstand more than 1100 stings. 

Man Attacked by Bees and Stung over 1,000 Times Brought Back to Life by His Pacemaker Reporter   June 6, 2016

A man who was attacked by a massive swcarm of bees in Arizona and stung over 1,000 times believes that his life was saved by his pacemaker.

Albert Katanov, 47, said that he was house hunting with his son in Phoenix on May 26 when he was suddenly overcome by bees.

Firefighters that were called to the scene said they found seven hives attached to the home.

Katanov was stung more than 1,000 times, suffered an allergic reaction and lost consciousness, WGN TV reported.

Lucky to be alive: Albert Katanov, 47, said that he was house hunting with his son in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 26 when he was suddenly overcome by bees

Ouch: Doctors said Katanov was stung over 1,000 times, however his pacemaker shocked his heart and brought him back to life Before collapsing, Katanov made it to a house across the street looking for help, screaming out that he was not breathing.

He was rushed to hospital and was lucky to survive the attack.

Katanov suffererd a cardiac arrest in November and was fitted with a pacemaker, and doctors believe it was the pacemaker that saved him.

They checked the device and worked out it had shocked Katanov seven times. 

'When I got to the hospital, they said his pacemaker kind of saved him. Because his body went into shock,' his son, Rubin Katanov, told WGN.

Read more and view video: 

Arizona Hiker Dies After Being Stung by 1,000 Bees

USA Today    By Danielle Quijada, The Arizona Republic     May 27, 2016

View Video and Tips On How To Stay Safe Around Bees

PHOENIX — A 23-year-old Louisiana man died after being attacked by bees Thursday morning as he and a friend were hiking within Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.

A medical exam determined the man had been stung more than 1,000 times, officials said.

Just after 9 a.m., Alex Bestler and his friend were hiking the Merkle Trail when a large swarm of bees appeared without warning.

The friend was able to safely make it to a nearby restroom, but Bestler was overtaken by the swarm before he could find shelter, the Sheriff's Office said

Another hiker and park employees approached Bestler and found him on the ground covered in bees. They tried to approach him, but the aggressiveness of the bees forced them to stay back, the Sheriff's Office said.

Two Rural Metro firefighters, a Sheriff's Office sergeant, park employees and the other hiker were able to move him onto a Sheriff's Office utility-terrain vehicle, despite Bestler still being covered in bees.

Bestler was transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The area on Merkle Trail where the incident took place was closed to the public Thursday afternoon for evaluation, the Sheriff's Office said.

“These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement.

Another bee attack on Thursday afternoon, this one in Phoenix, sent a 51-year-old man with numerous bee stings and respiratory distress to a hospital.

Phoenix Fire officials said the man was experiencing periods of unconsciousness, and he was believed to be extremely allergic to the bee stings.

The Saga of the Aggressive Honey Bees

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey    May 17, 2016

The saga of the aggressive honey bees in Concord continues. 

Although Extension apicuturist emeritusEric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, retired in 2014 after 38 years of service, he continues his Extension work.

When a backyard beekeeper's hive in Concord turned aggressive (a swarm killed two dogs, attacked a mail carrier, and stung passsersby), journalists began singling out honey bee guru Eric Mussen and other UC Davis experts for interviews. Apparently, when a beekeeper moved his hive on Friday to make way for landscaping, the bees went on the attack Friday and Saturday. Most of the bees have since been destoryed.

Some headlines screamed "Killer bees colonizing the Bay Area."

First of all, are they Africanized bees? DNA testing awaits.

“Their BEHAVIOR is very SUGGESTIVEthat they could be Africanized,” Mussen told Bug Squad today.

“Until someone runs a definitive test on the on the bees actually involved in the Concord stinging incident, we may never know exactly what genotype the bees were,” Mussen points out, adding that "we have three ways to try to differentiate between Africanized honey bees (AHBs) and European honey bees (EHBs)."

1. Mitochondrial DNA – The California Department of Food and Agricuture (CDFA) still conducts this type of testing once a year to clear the California Bee Breeders for queen exports into Canada.  CDFA also uses this criterion as "the one" for declaring Africanization.  However, its value in predicting temperament of the colony population is not particularly reliable.

2. Isozymes - the amino acid composition of certain enzymes differs between the two races

3. Morphometrics - computer matching of current sample specimens to verified AHB and EHB samples using measurements of various anatomical features.  Hybrids are problematic.      

"That type of bee was found around southern California and as far north as not too far from Angles Camp (Calaveras County)," Mussen mentioned.  "Further north, they found only specimens with one or two traits, but not all three.  That even occurred just into southern Oregon."

“Yes, EHB colonies can behave in that nasty manner, but I think it is more likely that AHBs are involved,” Mussen says.  He recalled that twice in the 1980s, swarms of bees from South America accompanied shipments of raw sugar cane into the C&H sugar refinery in Crockett (Contra Costa County). 

“We know the first one got away.  They think they got the second one, but could not find the queen in either case.    Since that time, there have been increasing complaints of "hot" bees from that area, south to Castro Valley (Alameda County).”

Mussen related  that “you don't have to have bees that test positive for AHB mitochondria to get extremely defensive behavior.  Studies conducted by Dr. Robert Page's lab workers in Mexico (see photo of an Africanized bee below that Page collected) demonstrated the gradual changes in behavior that accompanied increased proportions of AHB semen in A.I. EHB queens":

  • 12.5 percent - increased runniness on combs
  • 25 percent - add flighty to the list
  • 37.5 percent - add significantly more stings to the list
  • 50 percent or more - results in full-blown AHB defensive behavior. 

“So, if feral AHB colonies exist in the environment, we can have various amounts of ‘mismating' going on and its consequences around the area," Mussen points out,

“Another consideration is that mini-swarms of AHBs sometimes will alight on the outside of an EHB hive and park there for days.  The AHB workers slowly integrate themselves into the colony population.  Then, when conditions are right, the AHBs kill the EHB queen, the AHB workers and queen march in and take over (usurp the colony).”

“A third possibility is that some novice beekeeper was swayed by advertising for packaged bees from Texas.  Advertised as the most gentle stocks, there is no place where mating can be isolated enough to avoid AHB drones.”

Africanized bees are hybrids of a subspecies of bee from southern Africa that was exported to Brazil to improve breeding stock and honey production. Scientists say it escaped and spread throughout South America and into Central America.  It expanded into Mexico in 1985, in Texas in 1990, in Arizona in 1993, and in southern California in 1994.