Africanized Honey Bees (AHB)
What is Africanized Honey Bees and how are they different than honey bees ?
Africanized bees (sometimes sensationalized as “killer bees”) are the type of honey bees which have migrated from South America into some of the lower United States. AHB are on the Invasive species list on Hawai'i.
The behavior, rather than the appearance, of the Africanized honey bee (AHB) sets
them apart from the European honey bee (EHB) in several significant ways.
AHB started making their way up towards the US in 1957 after 26 AHB Queens and honey bees escaped a lab in Brazil. They quickly migrated north, moving into Texas from Mexico in October 1990, westward into New Mexico and Arizona in 1993, California one year later, Nevada by 1998, and Utah in 1999. The AHB also moved into the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in ‘94-‘95. Since 2005, unfortunately the AHB has been found in several counties in central Florida as well.
Why is this important ?
With climate warming up, there is great concern that more States will become suitable for the AHB. Just within six years, AHB crossed the known boundary in the Bay Area of California, now extending their habitat range into the northern Bay Area of Napa and Solano. The State of Hawaii experienced a scare back in 2011, which was thankfully contained and exterminated. But Hawaii is an absolute ideal habitat for AHB. If it were to become established and be difficult to control, it could seriously impact Hawaii’s communities, businesses, and tourism. AHB could also impact commercial beekeepers, resulting in reduced yields to melon and other crops that rely on pollination. It could also impact honey and queen bee production in the State by infiltrating domestic honey bee colonies.
Due to their heightened defensive behavior, African honey bees can be a risk to humans. Children, the elderly, and handicapped individuals are at the highest risk of a deadly attack due to their inability or hampered ability to escape an attack. African honey bees are agitated by vibrations like those caused by power equipment, tractors, lawnmowers, etc. Further, their nesting habits often put them in close proximity to humans. Because of this, precautions should be taken in an area where Africanized honey bees have been established.
What is currently done in to Hawaii
There are swarm traps at ports and airports across the islands, which are checked by HDOA 2x/month during swarm seasons and 1x/month during the rest. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH !
What can you do to help ?
We need everyone to serve as the frontlines against this threat. The UH Honeybee Project team members, Dr Ethel M. Villalobos and Scott Nikaido are pleading with the community that beekeepers and businesses within (ideally) a 2mile radius, minimum of .5miles, of airports and ports be vigilant when seeing swarms AND keeping an eye on the aggressiveness of their own hives.
If you are a resident, business or beekeeper within these radii of 2 miles from the Port of Hilo and the Hilo International Airport, please report any bee swarms to DOA at contact info XYZ. If you are a beekeeper within these zones and you notice your hives are exceptionally aggressive, please call the DOA for an inspection. Please help the community and the beekeeping industry be proactive and vigilant against this threat!If you know businesses within the 2 mile radius of airports and ports, if they spot a swarm, have them contact one of the following organizations:
Hawaii Invasive Species Council
Contact Info goes here
Department of Agriculture
Contact Info goes here