Africanized Honey Bees (AHB)
Africanized Honey Bee Facts

Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) also called "killer bees" became established in Texas in 1990 and are spreading to other southeast states. AHB entered southern California in 1994 and will eventually migrate throughout the state. Although its "killer" reputation has been exaggerated, the presence of AHB will increase the chances of people being stung. Learning about the AHB and taking certain precautions can lower the risk of being injured by this new insect in our environment.The Africanized honey bee is closely related to European honey bee used in agriculture for crop pollination and honey production. The two types of bees look the same and their behavior is similar in many respects. Neither is likely to sting when gathering nectar and pollen from flowers, both will sting in defense if provoked. A swarm of bees in flight or briefly at rest seldom bother people. However, all bees become defensive when they settle, begin producing wax comb and raising young. Africanized honey bees are less predictable and more defensive than European honey bees. They are more likely to defend a greater area around their nest. They respond faster in greater numbers, although each bee can sting only once.Africanized Honey BeesA Helpful Guide to Living with Africanized/European Honey Bees


Background of AHB

Facts About AHBs

Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) are descendants of African Bees imported into Brazil in 1956, in an attempt to improve honey production in the tropics. AHB arrived in California in 1994 and "colonized" the Coachella Valley in 1997.

Africanized Honey Bees have a less predictable behavior and are less tolerant of their surroundings than their European Honey Bee (EHB) relatives and a more defensive nature about them.


  • Are identical in appearance to the common European Honey Bee strainVenom is no more harmful than EHB; AHB can sting only once, then dieDefend a greater area around the nestRespond faster to a perceived threat and send more "soldier" bees to investigate or attack and remain angry for a longer period of time
  • Swarm frequently to establish new colonies or abscond when conditions are not ideal

Africanized Honey Bee..

   European Honey Bee

AHB nest in many locations where people may encounter them. Nesting sites include: empty boxes, cans, buckets or other containers; old tires; infrequently used vehicles; lumber piles; holes and cavities in fences, trees or the ground; sheds, garages and other outbuildings; and decks or spaces under buildings. Remove potential nest sites around buildings. Be careful wherever bees may be found.

Know the Bee's Behavior

Your best protection against the Africanized bee is to understand how it behaves and react accordingly. Bees "swarm" to establish new hives in the spring and fall. Bees are most active then. You may find bees setting up housekeeping where you live literally overnight. Individual bees gathering pollen on flowers or masses of bees clinging together in swarms generally will not bother you. However, bees are more likely to be defensive after they have established a colony and started raising young.