Africanized Bees in Florida

Every so often, there will be a news story about Africanized or “killer” bees. It’ll make the rounds as sightings spread from county to county… But what kind of bees are they talking about? Do they mean wasps? Wasps are pretty aggressive, so that’s an understandable conclusion to reach… But no. The Africanized killer bee is a species of honey bee made through hybridization. The first sighting took place in Brazil in the 1950s. After its discovery, the bee moved north in broad strides. By 1985 the United States saw its first sighting. Five years later, the first permanent colony formed in Texas. Nowadays, the bee can be found all around the southern United States – Including in parts of Florida.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to this problematic hybrid.

What are Africanized Killer Bees?

At some point, honey bees from Africa mated with Brazilian honey bees. This resulted in a hybrid species that was very aggressive. Bees, in general, are small flying insects. Many people know them by the fact that they sting. The yellow and black stripes are hard to miss… As is the fact that they make honey. The Africanized bee is no different in this regard. They appear black and yellow, build hives, and make honey. In fact, killer bee honey is, well… Killer. Many Central and South American farms rely on the bee.

So what’s different?

Dangers of Killer Bees

The aggression. The aggression is the most distinguishing feature of the Africanized killer bee. These are insects that excite quickly, swarm fast, and chase human beings up to a quarter-mile when aggressive. The size is also different, but only slightly. They are a tiny bit smaller than regular honey bees. Despite the smaller size, they are vicious. They have killed over 1,000 people in the United States alone since their introduction. Swarms of killer bees form rapidly, and they deliver more than ten times the stings of honey bees. A fatality in Texas back in 2013 saw a man being stung over 40,000 times before he succumbed.

Though their venom isn’t any more deadly than honeybee venom, they sting much more often and in far greater numbers.

How to Identify Africanized Killer Bees

This can be very difficult for the layman. The bees are very aggressive and resemble honey bees to the point of almost being identical. If you’re within 100 miles of an area where killer bees have been spotted, don’t approach any bee’s nest. Be wary of holes in the ground, as these bees can burrow and set up underground hives. If you accidentally step on one, escaping the swarm could prove impossible.

What to Do About Killer Bees

Importantly, do NOT try to handle a honey bee hive yourself if you’re anywhere near killer bee sightings. If you live in the Polk County area, that means you. The first thing you should do is keep in mind where the bees are coming from. Then, remove yourself, pets, and children from the area. In most cases, pest control companies won’t touch them.

At Total Pest Solutions, we go above and beyond to solve your bee and wasp problems. Chances are, you’re dealing with honey bees… But call us and be sure. Visit our website to learn more about our services, or give us a call to tell us your situation. Even in the event, we can’t help, we’ll set you in the right direction. We’ve been serving Polk County for almost 17 years now. We’d love to serve you, too.