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Apis mellifera scutellata

AKA: Africanized honey bee, killer bees

 

How do you get rid of Africanized bees?

If you think Africanized bees might have established a colony close to or inside your home, it is important to address this threat with a pest control professional as soon as possible. Removing Africanized honey bee nests is significantly more hazardous than common bees or wasps. Whereas European honey bee colonies may send a few dozen worker bees to defend the nest against a potential invader, with little or no aggravation Africanized bee colonies will dispatch hundreds of defenders to attack a victim.

Finding and removing the hive or nest is an important first step to addressing a killer bee threat.

Being equipped with proper protective equipment is especially important during Africanized bee nest removal. Depending on the proximity to the home it may be necessary to pair nest removal with a chemical pest control program that includes a residual surface spray and a crack and crevice powder treatment.

 

What’s the difference between an Africanized bee and a European honey bee?

The anatomy of the Africanized honey bee is almost indistinguishable from the European honey bee, though they are measurably smaller with smaller wings.

The chief distinguishing factor is the aggressive behaviour and territoriality of the Africanized Bee. Whereas European Bees colonies,  which are bred for ease of cultivation and management, may send out a maximum of 20 bees to defend a nest against an intruder, Africanized bee colonies will send hundreds of bees to defend against potential threats.

Africanized bees reproduce more quickly than European bees and form new colonies three times more frequently than European bees, leading to a likelihood to saturate an area with African bees in a short period of time.

Africanized bees are more likely to nest in smaller structures and closer to human structures, such as a hydro box, a spare tire, a chimney, etc.

Africanized Honey Bees can be aggravated into an attacking swarm by minor vibrations caused by construction or yard maintenance equipment.

 

Signs of an Africanized bee Infestation

Distinguishing the presence of Africanized bees from conventional European honey bees can be challenging. Their anatomy is almost identical and they only distinguishing factor is their increased honey production and aggressive defensive behaviour. If you are able to capture a live or dead bee specimen, we offer pest identification services and inspection services. If you suspect Africanized honey bees may be active close to your home, it is best to be safe and have our professionals take a look at the specimen or the nest, and move forward if necessary with a pest control program, before the colony begins aggressively swarming nearby humans.

 

How did Africanized bees get into my home?

In late mid-spring when the virgin queen emerges from diapause, she will seek out a sheltered, contained and quiet environment to establish the nest. If she gains access to the home through insecure flashing or soffits, or even through an open window, you are at risk of having an active bee colony in your home.

 

What do Africanized honey bees eat?

Like European honey bees, the Africanized relative feeds on pollen and nectar from flowering plants. The Africanized strain was first introduced in the western hemisphere to increase honey production and pollination activity in the native bee species. Africanized bees pollinate and produce honey at a much higher rate than the traditional honey bee. For this reason, they are continuously upkept by beekeepers in Central and South America, despite their aggressive behaviour.

 

How serious are Africanized bees?

Africanized honey bees have been responsible for over 1000 human deaths since their escape from quarantine over 50 years ago. While they may not stack up the same casualty numbers as other venomous insects, they are nevertheless a serious threat that should be addressed as soon as they are discovered.

Killer bees will swarm humans and animals with very little aggravation; they can even begin an attack because of vibrations from construction vehicles or public transit. Swarms consist of hundreds or thousands of Africanized bees and will chase a target for over a kilometre, stinging repeatedly causing death or serious injury. Even though the venom of the Africanized bee is no more potent than the European honey bee, because of the number of stings and their ability to pursue an unsuspecting target for such great distances, they are far more dangerous than the European variety.

If Africanized killer bees establish a colony in or near your home, you should contact a professional pest control company right away to remove the colony and implement a comprehensive pest control program.

 

What to do if you are attacked by Africanized Bees

Run away from the area, use a shirt or other fabric to cover head and airways.

Running through tall grass or tree branches can help disrupt the stinging bees.

It is important to find shelter within a bee proof structure or vehicle as soon as possible

Stingers should be removed by scraping rather than pulling.

Jumping into water or bushes will not protect a victim from the swarm. African honey bees can remain aggressive for extended periods of time putting you at increased risk when you emerge from underwater or a hiding place.

 

How Addison can help eliminate an Africanized honey bee infestation

If an Africanized honey bee colony does take up residence close to or inside of a human structure especially where there is severe bee sting allergy, management should be undertaken in a focused program that combines nest removal as well as a crack and crevice treatment and a residual surface spray treatment.

Because of the elevated risk of stinging or swarming, we advise customers to allow our expert technicians to address a bee infestation in their home. It is also very important to track the spread of the Africanized bee throughout North America. Though they have not yet been encountered in this part of Canada, and some researchers believe our winters are too cold for this species to withstand, it is nevertheless important to remain vigilant and report any sightings of this threatening bee species to Environment Canada

 

How Addison can help prevent Africanized bee infestations in the future

Part of our service includes identifying and sealing potential entry routes in your home. We use spray foam and steel wool for small cracks and holes where  bees might have gained access to a wall void, and we can refer you to roofing or contracting companies for more significant structural issues that could pose the risk of pest infestations in the future.

 

Additional Information

This hybridized bee species has earned the reputation as one of the most successful invasive species of all time. Their introduction into the wild was the result of a failed scientific experiment in the late 1950s in Brazil. African honey bees are very effective pollinators and honey producers and they are able to integrate and hybridize with any similar species of honey bee making their spread up from their original escape from quarantine rapid and unstoppable.

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