Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs)
For bee concerns on City property only, please contact the City of Thousand Oaks Municipal Service Center at (805) 449-2499. For bee concerns on private property, you may contact the Ventura County Fire Department or click on Africanized Honeybee Certification for a list of AHB certified pest control operators.
Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) are similar to the European Honey Bees (EHBs) used to produce honey and pollinate crops. They are called Africanized Honey Bees because they are the result of interbreeding between European bees and bees from southern Africa inadvertently released in Brazil in the 1950s.
They have also been referred to as "Killer Bees" in the media because of their increased defensive behavior. They defend their hive more rapidly and aggressively than the European honey bee and usually sting in greater numbers. They entered the United States in southern Texas in 1990, Arizona and New Mexico in 1993, and California in 1994. For details, visit Africanized Honeybees: Fact vs. Fiction
AHBs look nearly identical to the honey bees we have long had in California. Honey bees are about 3/4 inch long, brownish, and fuzzy. Less fuzzy insects with bright yellow and black markings or with gray paper nests are probably wasps, not bees.
Africanized honey bees are slightly smaller than the European honey bee, but only an expert can tell them apart. Visit Africanized Honeybee Pest Profile for more information.
Most people will probably never see a colony of Africanized bees. However, the following suggestions may reduce the chances of an encounter.
Check your house and yard at least once a month to see if there are any signs or sounds of bees taking up residence. If you do find a swarm or colony, leave it alone, and keep family and pets away. Contact a pest control company or a local beekeeper to solve the problem. If you want bees removed, look in the yellow pages under "bee removal" or "beekeepers", for local companies that will provide bee removal services.
To help prevent honey bees from building a colony in your house or yard, fill all cracks and crevices in walls with steel wool and caulk. Fill in holes in the ground or in pavement.
Look for bees in holes in the ground, holes in trees or cacti, and in sheds or outbuildings.
Remove piles of refuse. Honey bees will nest in an old soda can or an overturned flower pot.
Be extra careful when moving objects that have been lying around for some time. Examine work area before using lawn mowers, weed cutters, or other power equipment. Attacks frequently occur when a person is mowing the lawn or pruning shrubs and inadvertently strikes a bee's nest.
Teach children to be cautious and respectful of all bees.
Check with a doctor about bee sting kits and procedures if you are sensitive or allergic to bee stings.
Organize a neighborhood meeting to increase safety and awareness.
It is important to know that bees target the head, and nearly all those who suffer serious stinging incidents with Africanized bees are overcome by stings to the head and face. The best method of escaping a bee attack is to cover your head and run for shelter.
Keep the affected area below the heart.
If the sting was by a bee and the stinger is still in the skin, remove it by gently scraping against it with your fingernail, a credit card, or a knife. Be careful not to squeeze the stinger. The venom sac still will be attached and you will inject additional venom into the area. Be sure to remove the venom sac.
Apply cold compresses to relieve pain and swelling but do not apply ice directly.
If it becomes difficult to breathe, call 9-1-1. Itching should stop within a few hours. If it persists beyond two days, or if signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction occur after a bee sting, you should be seen by a doctor. The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
|1. Burning pain and itching at the bite site |
|2. Itching on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet |
|3. Itching on the neck and the groin |
|4. General body swelling |
|5. A nettlelike rash over the entire body |
|6. Difficulty breathing |
|7. Faintness, weakness |
|8. Nausea |
|9. Shock |
|10. Unconsciousness |