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Bee Swarm Information

Posted On Mar 25, 2014

We have noted a significantly high number of Africanized bee swarms moving into our city areas from the southern and western deserts this spring and again, this fall. Numerous bee swarms have been reported in the cities and areas of central and southern Arizona. In particular, we had a high volume of calls in the greater Phoenix and Tucson AZ metropolitan areas. While spring and fall bee swarms, sometimes referred to as beehives, can be migratory, bee researchers have determined that because of the increase in natural moisture and available forage, after four years of drought, many of the african bee swarms have stayed and colonized locally and will require control. It is a well established fact that the honey bee population will rise and fall with the amount of native and non-native forage available to them to create honey, honeycomb and develop bee brood. In fact, given enough available bee resources, plant material and water, a city block can support a bee population of as many as six established african bee colonies.

When a African honeybee colony decides to move into a structure, the honey bees immediately begin to apply a pheromone scent to the cavity and area they have chosen to occupy. This acts as a site marker and can be sensed by the bees from as far as three miles away. Additionally, they quickly begin developing honey comb and brood. Honeycomb particularly is strongly pheromone scented, moisture rich and can cause tremendous structural damage to any house or building structure. It can also attract ants, cockroaches, crickets, moths, rodents and wasps that will try to take advantage of the abundant food source available to them.

Most people have reported that they do not believe that the bees are Africanized bees because they are not aggressive and have not bothered them when they are first noticed. Be advised that this is not true; the longer a Africanized bee colony is established at any location, the more aggressive and defensive the bees will become. Consequently, after several brood cycles, as their numbers increase, they will begin casting bee swarms to populate other areas in the vicinity and start taking a dominant, aggressive, attitude towards anything they perceive as a threat in their home area. If an african bee colony has the opportunity to experience at least one brood cycle, it is generally considered feral, which means potentailly lethal and very dangerous. Beekeepers have reported a great deal of difficulty with Africanized honeybees usurping, taking over,their managed beehives throughout central and southern Arizona this year.

Another concern is that many homeowners in the desert southwest area are part time residents and not available to notice when they have been colonized. Without general public awareness to this problem, many Africanized bee colonies can become quickly established in any given area, more and more serious bee attacks and bee stinging incidents will occur and the greater the public danger. Given relatively little time, bee populations can become lethal, rise to the level of an area infestation, and truly earn the name Africanized killer bees.