Once a swarm of bees has found a suitable nest site, they will move in and begin to build a hive immediately. Most often, bees prefer to build hives within the hollow spaces of structures that have a small entrance and exit to the outside world. This allows them to efficiently gather resources such as nectar, pollen, and water to bring back to the hive. This also aids the bees in defending their hive from intruders and most importantly allows the bees to control the airflow and temperature of their hive.
Bees can build a hive extremely fast if resources are available, up to 5-10 pounds of hive per week! An Africanized beehive may contain over 50,000 individual bees in the peak season, which is a lot of workers! These hives can be very, very cranky and dangerous, if disturbed!
If you consistently see bees flying in and out of a structure, then you may have a hive present. Sometimes, bees will alternatively build what we call “open hives”. These hives are often confused with swarms because they may be located on a shaded tree limb or outside of a structure.
If you suspect you have a hive on your property, use caution and avoid the area. All of our wild honey bees in southern Arizona are Africanized and can quickly become aggressive when they perceive a threat to their hive. Triggers of aggression may include movement, noises, vibrations, or even an odor. You may not know if you threaten them until you start getting stung.
It is a common misconception that if a hive has not exhibited aggressive behavior, that it can’t possibly be Africanized. This is not a safe assumption in southern Arizona because we don’t always know what will set them off or when it will happen. It’s likely that the bees just haven’t felt threatened yet. The longer you wait, the worse the bee situation will get. It is best to call a bee professional trained in handling Africanized bees if you think you may have a beehive on your property.