Back To Blog

How Harmful are Africanized Bees?

August 9, 2021

What are killer bees? They are a hybrid species of the common Western honey bee. The bees, also known as the Africanized bees, result from the local Brazilian and Southern Africa honey bees mating. So, what do killer bees look like? We will get to that in a minute.

First, are you wondering how harmful are Africanized bees? Well, they are dangerous stinging bees that, when aggressive or excited, chase a man for more than a quarter of a mile, hence, the name "killer bee."

First identified in the 1950s in Brazil, a handful of bees escaped quarantine and spread through Central and South America. By 1985, the first Africanized bees were in the United States at an oil field in California.

The first bee colonies arrived in Mexico and Texas in 1990. Today, you can find the bees in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Western Louisiana, Central and Southern Florida, Sothern Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Sothern Arkansas.

What Africanized Bees Look Like

Africanized Killer Bees
Africanized Killer Bees

Now, what do Africanized bees look like? They are similar to the domestic honey bees. However, you can tell them apart by measuring their bodies. The Killer bee is slightly smaller, golden yellow, with darker bands of brown than its counterpart.

Signs Of The Bee Infestation

The only way you can tell if you have an infestation of this type of bee is to seek the professional help of a licensed bee control expert. If you find nests in unexpected places or holes in the ground when mowing the lawn, call the professional. Also, combat lawn-destroying insects by checking whether you live 100 miles around an area where the bees are commonly found. Do not approach any nest if discovered.

Prevention Of The Africanized Bee

How To Get Rid Of Them

If you find an Africanized bee nest anywhere around your property, call a professional to get rid of them. The bees' aggressive nature will make it dangerous for you to attempt to get rid of them yourself.

Their Nest

These bees build their nests in unique locations since they have small colonies. Watch out for the bees in crates, tree limbs, junk piles, mailboxes, empty cars, tires, boxes, utility poles, holes in the ground, overturned flower pots, and water meter boxes. The perfect places for accidental run-ins with unsuspecting animals and people.

Education On Africanized Bees

The Bee Stings

Just how harmful are Africanized bees? The venom is no different from that of regular bees, but the effects are more severe because the colony attacks in numbers. When attacked, run away from bees in a zig-zag manner and look out for a close place to seek shelter, like a car or a house.

Do not jump in water: they will wait for you to emerge.

While all bees attack to protect and defend their colonies, the killer bees are especially sensitive to disturbances. Hence, avoid attracting them by placing garbage and food sealed in containers. Throw away empty food containers after cleaning and rinsing, and remove all standing water and moisture around your home.

Also, do not wear clothes with floral prints, dark colors, and sweet-smelling cologne or perfume. Your clothes should not be loose fitting and avoid open toe shoes as well.

When attacked, the reaction can be delayed, systematic, localized, or toxic. Localized reactions – pain, swelling, warmth, redness at sting area, and itching – happen immediately. They can last from a few hours to a week, depending on the reaction.

If the response is massive, it can be accompanied by nausea and fatigue. If you scratch excessively, you might cause secondary bacterial infections. The same can occur if the region is not adequately cleaned, medicated, or disinfected.

Systematic reactions – red swollen bumps, flushing skin, and breathing difficulty – can be mild or life-threatening. Anaphylaxis – itching, swelling or tightness in the throat, and hives or rashes – is the most dangerous kind of systematic reaction.

In severe anaphylaxis cases, you might experience a drop in blood pressure, shock, severe shortness of breath, and loss of consciousness.

The leading cause of anaphylaxis-related deaths in the U.S. is insect stings. Seek medical help immediately if this happens.

Please Note:

DEET, spraying the house, and other insect repellents will not protect you from the killer bee stings. Do not swat at the bees either; just blow gently from a safe distance.


Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized Honey Bees

The Africanized killer bees colonies are small; thus, their nests are often in unique areas. You will find them in spaces like empty cars, crates, boxes, and tires.


Don't threaten the Africanized honey bees colony because they will defend and attack. The worker bees usually gather nectar and pollen from flowers to feed the colony members and the larvae.


The venom from these bees is no different from that from normal bees. But, they do attack in numbers. As a result, the outcome will be more severe and painful.

Treating The Bee Sting

How harmful are Africanized bees? They often swarm, leading to multiple stings during the attack. The barbed stinger from the bee will lodge in the skin where venom is released into the skin.

Hence, remove it immediately by swiping a flat object's edge, like a credit card in the welt center, and across the black stinger. Then clean the affected area with soap and cold water.

Apply an ice pack or a cold compress, and use anti-inflammatory medicine, antihistamines or hydrocortisone ointment, if necessary, to help relieve the pain and swelling.

If the region gets worse, see a doctor for prescription antihistamines or oral steroids. Emergency medical assistance is necessary is the reaction becomes more serious. If you have an allergy to Africanized bees or other insects that sting, get yourself an epinephrine kit, learn how to use it, and carry it at all times.

Recommended Posts


Be the first to know about exclusive news & offers.
(Get our limited-time $50 discount when you agree to a monthly plan)

West Valley: (602) 833-0526

West Valley:
(602) 833-0526

Email West Valley Office

Find Your City

© 2021 Preventive Pest Control In Arizona. All Rights Reserved