Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Notable Differences between Africanised and European Honey Bees

There is very little physical difference between a Killer or Africanised Honey Bee and a European Honey Bee. The Africanised Bee is actually very slightly smaller but this difference  is not immediately obvious and often  microscopic analysis is the only way to tell them apart.

The main differences between the two type of bees is to be found in their behaviour and specifically the following:


On average a European honey bee colony will swarm once a year, whereas the Africanised bee will often swarm as often as every six weeks. In addition unlike the European bee when Africanised bees swarm they will often produce two swarms at a time. Swarming is the natural means by which bees replicate and spread. As the numbers in a hive expand a new queen (or queens in the case of  the Africanised ones ) will be produced and once mated these will leave the colony with a large number of the worker bees and honey stores to set up a new colony. By swarming so often Africanised bees are able to spread and populate a wider area considerably quicker than their less ambitious cousins.


As the Africanised bee swarms so frequently their numbers do not usually get as high as European bees so they are happy to occupy much smaller spaces than the Europeans. They will often occupy holes in the ground or trees and even meter boxes, mail boxes, flower pots or soda cans, will be considered. They also do not tend to occupy nests for long whereas European bees will colonise a site for years or as long as it remains weather and predator proof. Africanised bees also do not seem to mind if their nest is unconcealed and open whereas Europeans tend to look for protected sites, sealing up all but one small entrance.


Africanised bees are far more defensive of their brood (young) and their honey stores and it is this behaviour trait that gives them their bad reputations. Unlike European bees, which will normally guard an area of a  few feet around their hive and rarely chase a potential predator for any distance or send out more than a couple of bees to investigate; Africanised bees  will guard up to 100 yards and will come out of their nests in large numbers to defend that area.


The Sting from an Africanised bee is no worse than a European bee and like them they can only sting once. The problem for anyone encountering these bees comes from their tendency to attack in greater numbers thereby inflicting multiple stings, which tend to be focused on the head and neck areas.

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