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Africanized Honeybee: Fact vs Fiction

In many ways, Africanized honeybees and European honeybees are similar.

Africanized Honey Bee Both:

  • have the same appearance
  • sting only once
  • have the same venom

Avoiding an Attack

You can reduce your chances of being stung by taking precautions:

  • Put together safety plans for your home and place of work.
  • Meet with neighbors to discuss the threat posed by Africanized honeybees and to increase community preparedness.
  • Obtain bee sting kits (over-the-counter or prescription).
  • Remain alert for bees while participating in outdoor sports, games and other activities.
  • Look for bees in work areas before using power equipment.
  • Check yards, pens and other buildings before using power equipment.
  • Walk away and stay away if you find a swarm or nest.
  • Run away in a straight line, cover your face and eyes with a jacket and hide in a car or house if a bee or swarm begins to chase you.
  • Call a pest control company or emergency response agency to handle nests or swarms.

Africanized honeybees also have their own identities --


  • are more aggressive
  • guard a larger area around their hives
  • become upset more easily by humans and machinery
  • respond faster and in larger swarms
  • chase threatening humans and animals for as much as a quarter of a mile

Nest Sites

Africanized honeybees are not choosy about where they settle.

Likely nesting sites include:

  • abandoned or rarely used vehicles
  • empty containers
  • places and objects with holes
  • fences
  • old tires
  • trees
  • in or around structures
  • garages
  • outbuildings
  • sheds

Creating a Safer Environment

To make your environment safer and reduce your risk of a sting.

  • Teach children to use caution and respect all bees.
  • Teach children to notify a teacher or adult it they find a nest or swarm.
  • Eliminate all potential nesting sites.
  • Check the walls and eaves of all structures.
  • Close off wall, chimney and plumbing-related gaps that are more than 1/8 inch large.
  • Cover rain spouts, vents, etc. with 1/8" hardware cloth.
  • Watch for regular entrance and exit routes used by swarms during spring, summer and fall.

Treating Stings

If stung by a bee or bees:

  • Find a safe area as soon as possible.
  • Remove the stinger quickly; scrape it out with a fingernail or credit card; do not release more venom by squeezing the stinger.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water. Apply an ice pack to relieve pain.
  • See a doctor if breathing is difficult, if you are stung several times, or if you are allergic to bee stings.

Extracted and adapted from "Bee Alert: Africanized Honeybee Facts," published by the Cooperative Extension, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.