I have a swarm or hive of bees on my property, are they Africanized?


By Allison Williams, Co-owner of Desert Swarm Bee Removal LLC

All too often we hear this statement, “The bee swarm or hive on my property is not Africanized because it is not aggressive.”  Unfortunately, this is not a safe assumption in Arizona.

All wild (feral) honey bees in Arizona are presumed to be Africanized. When threatened or disturbed, Africanized honey bees exhibit an exaggerated defense response of their colony. We don’t always know what will irritate them – it could be a noise, vibration, or even an odor! Our technicians can tell you from experience that hives can vary in aggression due to a variety of factors, but each bee removal is faced with some level of defensive bee behavior. Always call a professional if you suspect you have a bee hive on your property.

The widespread prevalence of Africanized honey bees in Arizona is supported by researchers, scientists, beekeepers, honey bee experts, and bee removal companies, like us! We have compiled a list of resources for you so that you can dive deeper into the world of Africanized honey bees and be armed with the right information!

From the Experts

The University of Arizona Urban Integrated Pest Management Program has published a bee management fact sheet that describes Africanized honey bee behavior and provides safety guidelines in the chance of encountering a bee attack. Follow the links below to find out more.

Bee Management, University of Arizona

University of Arizona Urban Integrated Pest Management Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a honey bee research center right here in Tucson! The Carl Hayden Honey Bee Research Center is responsible for official identifications of Africanized honey bees, especially when the honey bees are found in new states. Gloria Hoffman, research leader at the center is quoted in this local news story on the topic of bee swarms in Arizona. The first link leads to that article, and the second link goes directly to the Carl Hayden Honey Bee Research Center webpage.

Bee swarms: What you need to know to stay safe, AZCentral.com

Link to the USDA Carl Hayden Honey Bee Research Center in Tucson

This link will take you directly to the Africanized honey bee information provided by the USDA on their website.

USDA Africanized Honey Bee Information

Within Saguaro National Park located in Tucson, wild bee colonies are quite common. Park biologists estimate that hundreds of bee colonies call Saguaro National Park home. All of these colonies are now considered to be Africanized. Here is a link to their park fact sheet on Africanized honey bees.

U.S. Department of the Interior Saguaro National Park

Beekeeping in Arizona is different from other parts of the United States due to the prevalence of Africanized honey bees. Patrick Pynes, Arizona resident and beekeeper gives perspective on this challenge and provides commentary on hive management in the following article in the beekeeping publication, Bee Culture:

Commentary – Killer Bees in Arizona by Patrick Pynes

Recent News

Unfortunately, the following news stories cover incidents of recent Africanized bee attacks.

American Racing Legend A.J. Foyt Survives Vicious Killer Bee Attack

Four Puppies Die in Arizona Backyard Bee Attack, One Puppy Named ‘Lucky’ Survives

Arizona Landscaper Dies After Attacked by a Swarm of Bees


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