Expert warns Arizona residents to be aware of bees during warmer months
PHOENIX — Warmer weather is here to stay — and that means residents will have to pay attention to their indoor and outdoor space for bee hives.
People should assume any bees they encounter are “Africanized.” University of Arizona research said these are more unpredictable than domestic honeybees – and are much more aggressive too, especially when defending hives.
“They started in South America, and were brought over to increase the honey(bee) population in the 1950s,” said Dr. Frank LoVecchio, associate medical director of Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.
“Gradually they moved up. They seem to have stopped in Arizona.”
LoVecchio said there’s only one way to tell Africanized from domestic bees: “Their behavior. If I get envenomed by one bee and all of a sudden there’s a hundred bees on top of me — 200 bees on top of me — that’s usually the Africanized bee.”
It’s possible to die from bee stings, although no one knows how many will kill.
LoVecchio said it’s also important to remember the bees are defending their homes, a natural instinct of any creature. “Bees don’t like you messing with the hive,” he said.
If you suddenly encounter a swarm of bees, what can you do?
“What they really look for is your carbon dioxide, or the air that you exhale,” LoVecchio said. “The single best thing to do, if you can, is to outrun them.”
Hopping in the swimming pool may not be the answer, he said, because bees can and will wait for you as you emerge from the water. And upon getting out, your face and neck can be especially vulnerable to stings.
If you are stung by a bee and are concerned, call 9-1-1 or the Poison and Drug Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.