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Africanized bees

They were the real scare in the previous decades, but not much has been heard about Africanized bees lately. There was a report last year which stirred some panic, but it proved to be false, so the dust settled once again. This article aims to shed some light on these creatures, how they came to be, their behavior and other matters. Keep in mind that these bees do exist in real life and they did cause hundreds of deaths in the 50 or so years they have existed.

If you happen to encounter a colony, do not engage them, and if it is found on your property, call the experts to get rid of them. The best bee removal in Westminster and throughout Orange County comes from Bee Busters.

The inception

As their name suggests, their origin can be traced back to Africa. The bees on that continent needed to develop aggressive behavior and strength in order to survive the harsh conditions as well as the abundance of predators. Scientists believed that these traits would be ideal when paired with the more productive and docile European bees. The experiments started in Brazil in 1956. The breeding was successful, creating hybrid Africanized honeybees. However, the scientists failed to contain the bees to Brazil.

What went wrong?

The bees spread incredibly fast. Being stronger and more aggressive than their European counterparts, they were able to oust them from their ecological niche. By the early 1970’s, the bees reached the northern part of South America in Venezuela. The next decade saw them migrate to Mexico, until finally in the 1990’s they reached the southern USA. Initially, they caused a lot of problems with their aggression and persistence, so that created the myth of ‘killer bees’ which caused widespread panic. The country is still adapting to their arrival. They are not expected to travel any more north, as cold climates do not suit them.

Behavior

Like most bees, Africanized bees are very territorial. However, unlike most other species of bees, they are incredibly persistent and aggressive when they feel threatened. While most bees will break off the pursuit fairly quickly, these bees will pursue their target. It takes approximately 6 to 7 stings per LB, to inject enough venom into an average human to cause death. This, naturally, provided that there is no allergic reaction. So a 200 LB person would need 1200 to 1400 stings to be fatal. While this sounds like a lot of bee stings,  Africanized bees are more than capable of such attacks. An average colony can have between 10,000 and 20,000 bees, and often much more. A queen can lay up to 2500 eggs per day.

Comparison

However, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about them in the media. For instance, they are often represented as being much larger than regular bees. This is in fact very wrong, as they are typically smaller than their European cousins we are familiar with. So then, is their body count a result of the more potent venom? Once again, no. In fact, there is no difference between the venoms of these two species. And even if you consider the amounts of venom they possess, you might be surprised to once again learn that a regular honey bee is the winner of this comparison as well. So it is only their aggressive nature that sets them apart.

Not killer bees after all

A report from Puerto Rico shows that the same Africanized bees are much more docile there, as a result of less competition. So, their ‘killer bee’ reputation is perhaps too harsh, and depends solely on the conditions.

In any case, you should not attempt to remove bees yourself. There are professionals who have the right equipment and training. Bee removal in Westminster in Orange County is a job for Bee Busters. Contact Bee Busters for any further information.