Killer Bees in Southern California Bee Suits

Killer Bees in Southern California

How to Protect Yourself If Attacked by Killer Bees - Use a Bee Suit

Gemma Argent
It's no secret that there are Africanized bees migrating throughout the world, but they are now spreading through the United States relatively quickly as well. Most people have heard about the swarms of Africanized bees in the US, but fairly recently, in 1994, the killer bees as they are often called, entered California. Since 1994, however, the bees have been spreading through most of southern California, primarily in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego regions. They are even moving into areas further to the north and west of Los Angeles, in Kern and Ventura Counties.

Armed with the knowledge that these 'killer' bees are around, anyone who is working or playing in the outdoors in southern California should be aware of what to do if they encounter a swarm or hive. Most bees are not aggressive and would prefer to fly away to safety rather than attack and sting, but the Africanized bees don't have the same reservations at all. The swarms and hives that are found now, mostly contain hybrid bees. That means the hive is composed of regular honey bees that have bred with Africanized varieties. This creates a dangerous situation because the bees are unpredictable, aggressive and very, very protective of their hive. Rather than being the usual docile honey bees, they have been transformed into a potentially deadly species.

The only way to tell which hives contain Africanized bees is to have an entomologist examine the bees. While regular honeybees will still attack and sting when provoked, the killer bees don't need much provocation. They also have the reputation of chasing down their victims for a far greater distance than honeybees might. If you can out run and out distance the bees, it won't do any good to dive into a body of water, because the Africanized bees have also been known to wait above the water until their victim surfaces again. The best thing to do if you find yourself the victim of a swarm of African killer bees, your best hope is to run and seek shelter inside a building or car. As with all bees, once they sting, they will die. Therefore, even if you get into a car or building and a bunch of the bees follow you, you stand a chance of killing them or once they sting, they'll die anyway. It may still be painful or even dangerous if you are allergic, but it's a better option than staying outside where all of the bees in the hive or swarm will continue to attack.

The best idea, if you are going outside in an area where killer bees have been reported or sighted, is to be extremely vigilant. Look around and try not to shake any trees that could contain a hive. It's always a good idea to go around with a partner, which is basically common sense anyway, but it's especially important to have someone who can help you or go for help if necessary.