Africanized honey bees (AHB) are the same species, Apis mellifera L., as regular (European) honey bees (EHB) and it takes a laboratory DNA test to distinguish them. Their appearance is almost exactly the same, but their behavior is notably different. While EHBs tend to be gentle and calm, AHBs are extremely defensive and react very quickly to any disturbance of their nest, or even loud noises or vibrations, like a lawn mower. Once this defensive behavior starts, AHB will pursue the attack much longer and farther than would the EHB.
What should you do if you find or suspect a swarm or colony of AHBs?
- Leave it Alone!
- Warn Others of the Danger
- Do not allow people (especially children) or animals nearby
- Consider posting warning signs or red tape, if you can do so safely
- Notify the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and contact a local bee keeper (PDF) for removal immediately!
For more information about Africanized honey bees and how to prepare in case of accidents:
- Being Prepared in Monterey County: Africanized Honey Bees