Africanized ‘killer bees’ have been spotted as far north as California’s bay area for the first time; more specifically, in suburban areas within and near Lafayette.
It’s the first time that these kinds of bees, which have been known to kill human beings, have been discovered anywhere north of Mariposa County. Researchers believe that it is the warming winters that are to blame for the northern migration, and further warming may continue to push them further north, where they'll build hives and thrive.
Experts say that this breed of bee is hardly ever any more aggressive than your average European honey bee, but they tend to be very persistent and aggressive if you disturb their nests or pose a threat to them – more-so than your basic honey bee. This is a problem for the average Joe, because it can be difficult to tell them apart, esepcially from an observational distance.
Currently, the big question is just how many more killer bees are in the area. Now that at least one nest has been found, locals are concerned for their safety and experts are on the search. Experts don’t think that this is the only killer bee nest in the area, and they believe there are more.
“Normally honeybees forage within about a mile of their hive, though they can go up to about 5 miles,” John Kohn, a professor of biology at UC San Diego, said. “There is no way we found a member of the only Africanized bee colony in that region.”
“An Africanized honeybee out foraging on flowers is no more aggressive than your average European honeybee. Nor is the sting of an individual any different,” he said. “It’s only when a hive is disturbed that the level of aggression from Africanized bees is elevated.”
Despite the rumors that are swirling around, there really isn’t any huge cause for alarm. Although they’re more aggressive than the average honey bee when you disturb their nests, common sense should tell you to simply stay away from their nests.
If you do find a bee nest, the best thing to do is just back up and get away as quickly as possible. If you feel threatened, you should begin to run away once you feel you’ve distanced yourself away from the nest enough, and then contact the proper pest control professionals to deal with the problem.
The worst thing you can do if you come across a bee of any kind, is to try and antagonize or fight it. They can alert their fellow brethren of your aggression and the next thing you know you might be getting chased by a swarm.
The University of California has a very informative PDF on facts about the Africanized killer bee that you read up on at this link.
Source: CBS, SF Gate