Of all insects out there, bees are the only ones that are both loved and feared. Who doesn’t want their sweet and nutritious honey? Yet, they also frighten people with their stings. They’re just too scary that homeowners don’t hesitate to hire bee removal services.
Over the years, the well-loved bees were fondly called honeybees. Their hostile counterparts, on the other hand, are known as the killer bees.
European honeybees and western honeybees are other terms for the beloved kind of bees. As for the killer bees, they’re sometimes known as Africanized bees.
The Birth of Africanized Bees
Surprisingly, both the honeybees and killer bees belong to the same species. After all, the latter started out as the offspring of hybrid honeybees.
The creation of Africanized bees sounds like the plot of many sci-fi movies. In the 1950s, Warwick Kerr brought African honeybees to the South American continent. The Brazilian scientist intended to make hybrid bees by mating African and European honeybees. The hybrids were supposed to help in the production of honey in the region.
He underestimated the hybrid species though. He put them in an enclosure, but they were able to get out and mate with full European honeybees.
The Spread of Africanized Bees
The offspring of the hybrid and full European honeybees became known as Africanized bees. They’re also referred to as honeybees at times because they also produce honey. However, their reputation for being aggressive precedes that. The attempt of the hybrid species to get out already served as proof to how aggressive their youngsters could be. Decades after the escape, Africanized bees are now found in many parts of the North and South American continents. They’re quite common in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. Some of them even reached California. They even thrive in Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico.
Differences Between Africanized Bees and European Bees
Africanized bees and European honeybees look a lot similar. Perhaps, their most distinct physical difference is the smaller size of the former.
As honeybees, Africanized bees tend to work harder. Their worker bees wake up earlier to have more time collecting nectar, pollen and water. Many of them even spend their nights doing so.
They also have a better strategy in their collection. They tend to collect in smaller groups. They also spread out. As for European honeybees, they prefer to get nectar in bigger groups and in one place at a time.
The locations of their hives also help you determine whether the bees in your yard are Africanized or the European kind. The European honeybees usually form their hives in dry, above-ground places. They also prefer to keep their homes hidden.
Their Africanized counterparts don’t do the same. They tend to set up their hives in the most random of places. They don’t even care if their homes are exposed. Low-lying tree branches are among their common locations. You can also find their hives in abandoned vehicles and outdoor structures.
Despite being known as the killer bees, the Africanized bees actually have less venom compared to their cousins. It’s safe to say that a bite of a European honeybee could be more fatal than that of an Africanized bee. However, there’s actually a plausible reason behind the name killer bee.
The History Behind the Name Killer Bee
While they don’t work in big groups, Africanized bees are known to be more coordinated when they’re attacking. Once they sense danger, they release the so-called pheromones. Basically, pheromones are scents that the bees use to communicate. After one or more killer bees release such, the other bees look for the scent and sting the target.
European honeybees do the same thing as well. However, Africanized bees are less forgiving. They tend to chase down their intruder for hours. The European honeybees may only do so for 30 minutes or less.
The Africanized bees are willing to go far as well. They’re determined to fly for miles just to get back to the one who harmed them or their homes.
If over a thousand bees are dying to sting you, it’s not surprising that they’re dubbed as the killer bees. There have been many reports about the way that their multiple stings have killed humans and even large animals. Even the honey-loving bears will find such bees difficult to deal with.
The Gentle Kind of Africanized Bees
To be fair, not all Africanized bees deserve bad reputation. In Puerto Rico, the bees that went there and thrived had offspring which turned out gentle. They’re even loved for being as gentle and as helpful as their European cousins. Unlike the ones infesting the US, the Africanized bees in Puerto Rico are being used to produce and collect honey.
However, it’s worth noting that it took more than a decade for the said bees to behave as such. As for now, you can’t hope the Africanized bees in the US to be gentle in no time. Removing them in your property is a must, especially if you have children and pets.
Steps in Removing Africanized Bees
Before you attempt to remove Africanized bees in your property, make sure they’re indeed the killer type. Observe the location of their hives and the way the bees collect nectar. Download pictures of such bees as well. Then compare them with the ones in your yard.
After confirming it, do a double check of your home’s exterior. Make sure there are no holes where bees may enter later on. You should also inform your neighbors as having such bees is a community problem.
Next, prepare the needed materials. Buy insecticide and proper equipment. Don’t forget your proper gear. You should be covered from head to foot. Wear goggles, ear plugs, gloves, boots and preferably, a plastic coat. Avoid fabrics because stingers can get through them.
You should also prepare some handheld torches. Before you spray the hive with insecticide, drive the bees out and away by lighting the torch and letting it smoke around the hive. That’s how traditional honey-collection is done anyway.
As much as possible, do the removal when there are no children in the neighborhood. Schooltime is an ideal time to do so. Secure pets in an enclosed space as well.
If you don’t want to deal with all the hassles, you can hire Fromms Pest Control for our bee removal services instead. We are well-equipped and have better knowledge of keeping bees away from your home.