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What are the Signs of Honeybee Colonization?

Posted On May 05, 2014

When you see a colony or swarm of honeybees it is appropriate and wise to assume they are Africanized and should be treated with respect. These bees have justly earned the reputation and handle of “Killer Bees.” Many, many animal deaths, including dogs, horses, cows, rabbits, ducks, geese and chickens have been caused by the stings of Africanized honeybees. Men and women have also been killed or critically injured by Africanized honeybee stings. Aside from being overly aggressive, these honeybees are unpredictable.

The eradication of honeybee colonies on private property is the responsibility of the owner.

Once you have knowledge of a honeybee colony’s presence on your property, you have liability, should someone else be injured. It is important that you walk around your property weekly observing any bee flight. Important indicators that you may or may not have a honeybee colony include:

1. Direct bee flight, usually not more than 3-4 bees going in and out of the entrance within about one minute, is a strong indicator of colonization.

2. Finding dead bees under a light you leave on at night. Bees in an established colony within line of sight of a porch light or other light visible from the outside are attracted to the light and will fly at the light until they are exhausted and will usually die, dropping below the light

3. A few common areas in homes where colonies become established include, behind vent boards, in house walls going in through holes where conduit or pipes go into your home, in boxed-in beams, below or above bay windows, inside decorative stucco pop-outs of any sort, through scuppers into parapet walls, Vega beams, under decks, above ground spas, sheds, dog houses and play houses, inside water or irrigation valve boxes, inside old tires, under boat covers when the boat is used infrequently, at joints between two sections of manufactured homes, and under the belly pan of mobile homes.

4. You do not have a bee problem if you see bees going from flower to flower in your garden or on blooming trees. When the peak blooming period is has passed, they will move on to other forage sources.

5. It is common to have bees foraging for water in your pond, pool or water feature, or fountain. Heavy foraging for water is an indication that there are established colonies near your home or on your property. Again, you may wish to have a licensed bee removal specialist perform an inspection of the site to provide certainty.

6. During times when there are not a lot of natural sources for pollen and nectar, honeybees will forage on other sweet liquids including soda, fruit juice, jelly (perhaps dropped onto a table from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich), humming bird feeders, etc. You can avoid this foraging behavior by keeping lids on garbage cans, or if there are no lids, the trash bags should be changed frequently.

Many people report to us that they do not think their bees are Africanized because they have never been aggressive. Please do not make this assumption.