Africanized Honey Bees (AHB)
Scientific name: Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier Common names: Africanized honeybee, African honey bee, Killer bees The Africanized honey bee (AHB) is closely related to the European honey bee (EHB), used in agriculture for crop pollination and honey production. The AHB is known as the more aggressive relative of the EHB. The AHB is now established in Southern California. AHB History: EHB's were brought here by colonists, and survived quite well in North America and were good honey producers. Unfortunately, they did not fare as well in the tropical climate of South America. This habitat was very different than Europe where the EHB's evolved. African honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) thrive in tropical climates, but are also very aggressive in their defensive behavior. In 1956, these African honey bees were imported from Tanzania (Africa) to Brazil (South America) for cross-breeding with EHBs - the thought was a bee could be bred to thrive in the tropics like the African honey bee but with the more docile nature of the EHB, in order to increase honey production. Unfortunately, they were unable to produce a mix that was easy for beekeepers to work with : all the hybrid bees retained the African bee's aggressive behavior. This mix between the African honey bee and EHB was labeled the "Africanized honey bee" (AHB). In 1957, these AHBs escaped from Brazil, and continue to spread northward. AHBs interbreed with EHBs in new areas, and the offspring of these bees are considered "Africanized" - the less aggressive EHBs gradually disappear. AHB Migration: After their escape in 1957, AHBs spread through Central America and up into North America. They were first reported in Mexico in 1985. Only five years later, the first AHBs were found in the U.S.A., at the Texas border in 1990. The first California record was in 1994. Los Angeles discovered them in 1998. Today, most counties in Southern California are considered colonized by Africanized honey bees. [Info from: Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector Borne Disease Control District]
EHBs and AHBs look the similar, and their behavior is similar in many respects. Neither is likely to sting when gathering nectar and pollen from flowers, but both will sting in defense if provoked.
General Bee Safety Precautions: