University of California
Beekeeping in San Diego County

Africanized Honey Bees

Africanized Honey Bee in a hive. Source: CISR, UC Riverside
Africanized Honey Bee in a hive. Source: CISR, UC Riverside
Africanized honeybees (AHB) were first detected in California in 1994 and since have become the majority of feral bee colonies found in nature. Although the AHB is the same species as the European honeybee (EHB), the most common bee used in the United States for agriculture and for honey production, it differs from the EHB in its behavior.

The AHB is much more defensive than the EHB and will protect their colonies in greater numbers, which typically leads to more stinging incidences when a nest is disturbed. They are also known to follow and attack intruders for up to a quarter mile away. This defensive behavior is thought to have evolved because of the many biological competitors in the bees' native Africa where only the most defensive bees can survive.

The EHB are kept by beekeepers for their manageable traits that include gentleness, reduced swarming, and high honey hoarding. For beekeepers, the presence of the AHB in their colonies can have an economic impact. When compared to EHB, AHB have reduced honey production, abscond quicker, and swarm more often.

If an increase in defensive behavior is noticed in a managed bee colony, it is a good probability that AHB have attacked and occupied the hive. Therefore, the colony will have to be re-queened in order to reestablish it with EHB. See the UC BMP’s of Beekeeping for more information on this procedure.

More Resources:

Bee Alert: Africanized Honey Bee Facts
(UC ANR Publication) (PDF)

Africanized Honey Bee
Center of Invasive Species Research (CISR), UC Riverside (Website)

Africanized Honey Bee Facts
(County of San Diego) (PDF)

La abeja africanizada en California
(County of San Diego) (PDF)

Africanized Honey Bee
(Publications from University of Florida IFAS)

How to Protect Yourself from Africanized Honey Bees
(County of San Diego) (PDF)


This site provides education and outreach to the public and beekeepers to protect public safety within San Diego County in response to the the new apiary ordinance. The site has been developed by the University of California Cooperative Extension - Farm and Home Advisers Office in San Diego County with support from the San Diego County - Agriculture, Weights, and Measures Office.

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