Up close and personal with Africanized Honey Bees

July 16, 2009 | By | Comments (16)


I’m no stranger to Africanized honeybees.A few years ago my dad was attacked in
Tucson while watering the plants in our backyard. Even after he frantically ran
inside, more than thirty bees followed him, and my entire family had to swat for
nearly ten minutes to get rid of them. He was stung more than thirty times. 

The year before an inspector told us they were Africanized bees, but we’d never had a problem until that day.

Most people know Africanized bees as killer bees, a term UC
Davis entomologist Eric Mussen says is misleading. “They were called assassin bees in Brazil because the bees go into European honeybee colonies and wipe out the other bees, not because they kill humans.” They do pose a more serious
threat than European bees though. While you might receive up to 200 stings from
a honeybee attack you could receive up to 2,000 from Africanized honeybees,
something virtually no one can withstand. Genetically, AHB are more aggressive
in guarding the hive—they’ll follow you for up to 30 minutes and thus you’re
more likely to be stung.

In the past ten years, AHB have gradually been moving north;
so far they’ve been located as far north as central Nevada. But Mussen says
that trend is slowing and that no new migration has been recorded in recent
months. “It appears as though the Northwest expansion has slowed down to a
trickle, if not stopped,” Mussen said. “We were predicting they’d be in the Bay
Area by now, but for some reason they didn’t make it.” There’s enough pollen
and NorCal has the right climate, so entomologists don’t really know why the
bees aren’t migrating.

The good news is, beekeepers have learned how to mitigate
aggressive AHB colonies by introducing European honeybee queens, which then
cross-breed and produce gentler offspring. If only I’d had beekeeping skills
back then and could have re-queened the hive outside our house. Ok, you’re
right, I probably wouldn’t have had the gusto to suit up and try to reengineer
an entire hive. That’s something I’d happily leave up to a professional!

In the end, my dad was fine and never had to go to the hospital. But he’s jumpy around bees now and even the sound of a fly makes the hairs on his arms stand up. It’s too bad he never got the chance to meet Sunset’s bees. Even though they have their feisty moments, they’ve completely won me over.

By Lindsey Hoshaw, Sunset intern


  1. pretty hair,

    Hi I am so excited I found your blog, I really found you by accident, while I was looking on Bing for something else, Nonetheless
    I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a
    remarkable post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read
    through it all at the minute but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great job.

    January 2, 2015 at 8:36 am
  2. best weight loss supplement for women

    Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found
    a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.

    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    September 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm
  3. garcinia pro nutritional sciences

    After I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked
    the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment.
    There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service?

    September 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm
  4. Lourdes

    Amazing issues here. I am very satisfied to peer your article.
    Thanks a lot and I’m having a look forward to touch you.
    Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

    August 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm
  5. ZenWei

    Great goods from you, man. I’ve consider your stuff previous
    to and you’re just extremely wonderful. I really like what you
    have bought here, really like what you’re stating
    and the way in which through which you are saying it.
    You are making it entertaining and you still take care of to stay it smart.
    I can not wait to learn much more from you. This is really a tremendous site.

    August 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm
  6. Larae

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about one-block diet archive.

    August 13, 2014 at 9:10 pm
  7. absolute garcinia extract weight loss

    I do consider all the ideas you’ve offered to your post. They’re really convincing and can certainly work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies. May just you please
    extend them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

    August 13, 2014 at 8:49 am
  8. lipo hyperion g3 cx

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this webpage’s articles or reviews everyday along with a mug of

    August 12, 2014 at 4:46 am
  9. Tayla

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the
    best websites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this site!

    August 12, 2014 at 3:23 am
  10. daytime insomnia

    Heya! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website like
    yours take a lot of work? I am completely new to writing a blog however Ido write in mmy diary every day.
    I’d likee to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience annd views online.

    Please let mme know if yyou have any ideas or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.
    Appreciate it!

    July 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm
  11. Google

    Using Ancient Rome 3D in Google Earth, you can explore Rome as it appeared in 320 A.

    Based on their experience, they could know how much is
    required before going into details. The only tab of
    your concern is Public Templates, and no actions are necessary as it is already on the screen.

    June 17, 2014 at 8:29 pm
  12. garcinia cambogia fruit extract 500mg

    I every time emailed this blog post page to all my friends, since if like
    to read it then my contacts will too.

    August 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm
  13. seoorganics.net

    Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. That is a very well written
    article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

    May 7, 2013 at 3:44 am
  14. jan mattson

    I so enjoyed your article and having lived in Tucson for 15 years made it even more interesting to read. I have not had the bee experience but can only imagine getting those off a person as quickly as possible.

    July 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm
  15. Andy

    Thanks for this article. Beekeeping seems to be a tough job though and requires passion as everywhere.

    July 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm
  16. Diane Bailey Haug

    As an encaustic artist working in beeswax we definitely want to keep the bees making honey (and wax). Very nice article Lindsey.

    July 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s