Quick Facts
  • Slightly smaller than the European honey bee
  • Defend their hive more rapidly than the European honey bee
  • Usually sting in greater numbers
  • Are less selective about where they nest
  • Swarm more often than European honey bees
  • Has venom equal in strength to the European honey bee
  • Each bee can sting only one time – females die after stinging
  • Eat nectar and pollen and make honey

Species Facts:

The Africanized Honey Bee, A. m. scutellata, are aggressive bees that prefer a tropical and subtropical habitats because they are accustomed to a wet and a dry season, as opposed to the hot and cold seasons associated with temperate regions. Common nesting sites are in tree hollows, rotted logs, and in many manmade structures, such as wood and rock piles. They are known to defend their nest from intruders up to 50 feet away by stinging in the hundreds and chasing intruders up to a mile. They have caused deaths of pets, livestock, and even people, giving them their "killer bee" nickname. People and other animals are usually killed only if they are unable to get away.

The introduction of the Africanized Honey Bee has had a substantial impact on the economy and ecology of the United States. They affect the beekeeping industry by competing with local bee populations, causing them to produce less honey and by taking over their nest by killing its queen and replacing it with their own. It should be stressed here that their main impact is not by taking over colonies through killing queens, but rather through mating.

The queen mates with a drone to create a fertilized egg; which becomes a female worker bee. The queen also produces unfertilized eggs, which become male drones. Eggs become queens if they are fed (when they are larvae) large quantities of an extremely nutritious creamy white liquid -royal jelly, a mix of hypopharyngeal and mandibular gland secretions. One queen can produce 1500 eggs a day.

Unlike A. mellifera, A. m. scutellata does not hoard honey over the winter. Instead they depend on colony mobility (absconding and swarming) to find new sources of food, water, or space if one or all run out. Colonies reproduce by frequent swarming, and one colony can result in 17 colonies after a year when both reproduction and mortality are taken into account.

Host or Survey Site:

Agricultural areas, disturbed areas, natural forest, planted forests, urban areas hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics, utility boxes, garbage containers and abandoned vehicles

Survey Method:

Visual survey, web page and educational materials development

Portions of this article courtesy of: Global Invasive Species Database
Africanized Honey Bees (Photo from: www.bugwood.org Credit to: Scott Bauer)