How do I know when I have a bee problem?

Bees live in colonies of up to 60,000 individuals. If you see one or a few bees visiting your garden flowers or drinking water in your yard, you need not to be concerned.

Bees travel long distances, sometimes as much as 6 miles, to search for food and water. Sometimes they visit hummingbird feeders for sugar water, especially when flowers are scarce and they cannot find other sources of nectar and pollen. Bees gathering food are not likely to sting unless they are threatened so do not provoke or disturb them. Single foraging bees should be left alone.

What if I see a large number of bees?

If you regularly see many bees, you should be alert to the possibility there may be a wild honey bee colony nearby. Look for numerous bees flying in and out of an opening such as a crack in a wall, hole in the ground or in the cover of an abandoned flower pot.

Stay away from the bees and do not get close to their nest because they may feel threatened by your presence and attack you. Do not disturb them or try to remove them yourself, but do not ignore them either, even if they do not seem to be a problem.

You should have swarms of wild bee colonies removed immediately.

Consult your yellow pages for beekeepers or pest control operations in your area who will remove the swarms or colony.

Never shoot, throw rocks at, pour gasoline on, burn, treat with pesticides or otherwise threaten established bee colonies.


How do I avoid being stung?

Approach meter boxes and mailboxes with caution; do the same for wall cracks, holes, or other places where bees can build a nest. Look for winged insects flying into and out of any opening. Listen for the buzz of the bees in the nest.

Bees can move into a site and set up a colony within a week, so be prepared even if you recently visited the same site.

Be especially cautious when using powered equipment such as chain saws, weed eaters, mowers or drills because vibrations are offensive to bees. Check areas for bee nests in trees, drainage pipes, abandoned pots, boxes etc. before using powered equipment and keep pets and children indoors when in use.

Prevent bees from nesting in buildings by filling in any holes or cracks that occur where utility services enter the buildings, wall voids of hollow block cracks or holes in foundations and in the roofs. Check where chimneys meet the house for any separation, and make sure chimneys are covered properly. Be especially careful with cavities in saguaro cacti, trees, rocks, or discarded automobiles and parts of appliances.

Bees will readily nest in any location in which they can find shelter if given an opportunity. Put window screen mesh over drains, attic vents, and irrigation valve boxes; cover all holes with fine screen if ventilation is needed and make sure windows and sun screens are tight fitting. Keep shed doors tightly closed.


Dark clothes are more threatening to bees. In nature, animals with dark fur, such as bears and skunks, commonly break open and destroy nests in search of honey, and bees target objects that resemble their natural predators when they defend their nest. Bees tend to go after dark-colored, leathery or furry objects.

Keep in mind that bees see the color red as black; fluorescent orange may be better choice when hunting.

Light-colored clothing may be a better choice when hiking. Wear white socks because honeybees are known to sting the ankles of person wearing black socks.

Always wear pants when hiking and long sleeved shirts if possible. Avoid wearing shiny jewelry and leather, which attract bees.

Avoid perfumes, after shave, hair spray and sunscreen because certain odors have been known to aggravate honey bees. The smell of newly mown grass has also been known to provoke bees.

Periodically check your property for any arrival of establishments of bee colonies. Do not climb a tree, kick a log or roll over a rock without checking it for bees first.

What should I do if I am attacked?

Run away as fast as you can. Get to the shelter of a house or car as quickly as possible. If you are not near an enclosed vehicle or shelter, simply run away (in a straight line if possible) as far and as fast as possible, until the bees stop following you (up to half mile). The bees are defending their nest and once you are far enough away, they no longer consider you a threat. Bees target the head and eyes; try to cover your head as much as you can, without slowing your progress. Do not flail or attempt to swat the bees. Just get away fast!

Entering water is not recommended, the bees may wait for you to come up for air.

Once you have reached shelter, examine yourself for stingers. When a bee stings, it leaves its stinger and venom sac behind in the skin. That means an individual bee can only sting once and then it dies.

What do I do if I am stung?

If you are stung by one Africanized bee, it will be the same as a sting from our common European bee. Embedded stingers continue to inject venom for up to a minute or until they are removed. Scrape out stingers with your fingernail, credit card, pocket knife or other sharp edged object. Do not pull them out with tweezers or fingers, because you will squeeze more venom into your body.

Most people can tolerate a few bee stings, but even one bee sting can be dangerous, especially for an individual is allergic to them; you should always consult with your doctor after a bee sting, especially if you are experiencing symptoms other that pain and localized swelling.

If you see someone being stung by bees, call 911.


Protect your loved ones and your pets from the Africanized bees. Keep your dog under control when hiking; a dog bounding through the brush is more likely to disturb bees than one following quietly at your heels.

Stay alert when horse riding through brush or under low branches, where bees might nest.

Try to call the person or pet under attack to come inside your house or your car; try to get them away from the bees without endangering yourself.

Do not attempt to approach a person or an animal being stung without some sort of protection (such as beekeeper’s suit or inside a car), because the bees are likely to attack you as well. If you approach an animal that is being stung, remember that an injured animal may bite or attack unexpectedly. If possible, douse the animal with a shower of soapy water, which will kill any bees clinging to it. Remove the stingers with you fingernail, credit card, pocketknife or other sharp edged objects. Contact your veterinarian for advice in case of severe reaction to the sting.