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Henderson Fire

Africanized Honey Bee Facts

Illustration of Bee"KILLER BEES" are Africanized Honey Bees. They were brought to Brazil in an attempt to increase agricultural production. The bees were accidentally released into the jungle and have been moving northward since. They have bred with our domestic honey bees.


The bees…

Are slightly smaller than the European honey bee, but only an expert can tell them apart.

Defend their hive more rapidly than the European honey bee.

Usually sting in greater numbers.

Tend to nest in low areas but will utilize a variety of natural and man-made objects including hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics. Sprinkler valve boxes are a particular favorite..

Swarm more often than European honey bees. (Note: A swarm is a group of bees looking for a new home. Swarms are not generally aggressive as they have no hive to defend.)

Do not have stronger venom than the European honey bee.

Each bee can only sting one time – females die after stinging.

Eat nectar and pollen and make honey.


Africanized Bees are firmly entrenched in Southern Nevada. With caution and prevention, we can learn to live with the Africanized Bees.

Check your home and yard at least once a month to see if there are any signs of bees. If you do find a swarm or colony, leave it alone and keep family and pets away. Contact a pest control company to remove the hive.

To help prevent honey bees from building a colony in your house or yard, fill all cracks and crevices in walls with caulk, insulation, or other fillers. Remove piles of refuse, as honey bees will nest in an old soda can or overturned flower pot. Fill holes in the ground.

  • Bees only attack when the colony is threatened.
  • Loud noises, strong odors or fragrances, shiny jewelry, and dark colors are all perceived as threats. Wear light-colored clothing. Avoid wearing floral or citrus aftershaves or perfumes.
  • The bees typically attack the face and ankles.
  • An extremely aggressive colony may attack any threat within 100 feet.
  • Bees may pursue you for up to ¼ mile.
  • They are slow fliers and most people can outrun a bee.
  • Run away in a straight line, protecting your face and avoiding other people, or they too may come under attack.
  • DO NOT try to hide underwater; the bees will wait for you to surface. If you see someone under attack, stay away and call 9-1-1 immediately. DO NOT SCREAM OR WAVE YOUR ARMS at the person as this will attract the bees to attack you. If it appears that the person is unconscious, do not try to rescue them. The bees will leave because the person is not moving and they will attack you instead.
  • Seek medical attention.


Obviously, it is best to avoid contact. But if contact becomes unavoidable, it is important to know what to do. Africanized honey bees target the head. If possible, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN from the bees. In most cases, you can outrun them. Cover your face with your hands, a blanket, coat, towel, or anything that will give you relief while you look for an avenue of escape. If you have nothing else, pull your shirt up over your face. The stings you may get on your chest and abdomen are far less serious than those to the face. Do not scream or wave your arms, as this will keep the bees attacking.

Look for shelter such as a building or vehicle. DO NOT jump into a swimming pool. The bees will wait for you to come up for air and attack again.

If you have been stung several times, seek medical attention. If you become dizzy, have difficulty breathing, or your lips and fingernails turn blue, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. You may be suffering from an allergic reaction to the stings and you will need immediate medical attention.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Henderson Fire Department does NOT remove swarms of bees or bee hives. This should be done by professionals. Call (702) 385-5853 for a list of exterminators. The Fire Department will respond in situations where people are stung by bees.