Africanized Honeybee Pest Profile

Two Africanized Honeybees

Common Name:

Africanized Honeybee (AHB)

Scientific Name:

Apis mellifera scutellata

Order and Family:

Hymenoptera: Apidae


It is extremely difficult to distinguish the Africanized Honeybee (AHB) from European Honeybees (EHB). Only after complex laboratory analysis of morphological characters is it possible to state the probability that a group of bees is Africanized. That is, scientists have developed a probability table using 0.00 to indicate absolute assurance that bees are European and 1.00 to indicate absolute assurance that bees are Africanized.

History and Economic Importance

Major behavioral differences which distinguish AHB from EHB are general excitability, defensiveness, frequent swarming, and an ability to nest in a wide range of sites. Swarming is the primary mode of spread. When a swarm finds a suitable nesting site, it may nest there and construct combs. If a shortage of food, water, or space develops, a swarm will move (abscond) to a more suitable location. As the number of bees in the nest increase, they produce reproductive swarms which seek new nesting sites. Reproductive swarming can occur every six weeks, especially during heavy nectar flow periods.


Africanized Honeybee

Africanized Honeybee in California (Map)

Life Cycle:

The following is a brief description of the complete metamorphosis:

Hosts and Damage:

Generally, most flowering plants are hosts for honeybees. However, some species seem to be more attractive than others to bees. In general terms, the herbaceous annual and perennial species in North America which are more than usually attractive include mints, milkweeds, clovers, and asters. Mountain mint and swamp milkweed seem to be the most attractive species documented at this time.