Partially Africanized Bees - State Apiarist, Mike Studer, says it is no surprise that partially Africanized bees have made their way to Tennessee considering they have already been found in other states such as Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. "Citizens need to be vigilant, but there’s no need to overreact," Studer said. "This is a situation that can be effectively managed through good beekeeping practices."
Genetic testing showed that the bees were less than 17 percent Africanized, far less than the 50 percent considered by USDA to be truly Africanized. The colony has been depopulated and TDA is working with beekeepers in the area to determine if other bees could have been affected.
The most important difference between an Africanized honey bee and our domestic European honeybee is their behavior. Africanized bees are much more aggressive, defend their nests more fiercely and in greater numbers and are more likely to defend the nest when threatened by predators or adverse environmental conditions. But, the sting from a single Africanized bee is no more venomous than a European honey bee. Africanized bees tend to colonize in smaller spaces than the docile European honeybee. Therefore, if you see honeybees in the ground, or in small openings such as flower pots or bluebird houses leave them alone and call the state apiarist immediately to assess the situation. Bees do not try to hurt people, they simply defend their territory.
If you do disturb an Africanized honeybee colony, follow these steps to protect yourself:
- Cover your head with your shirt or jacket while running because Africanized bees tend to sting the face and head.
- Never stand still or get boxed into a place outdoors where you cannot escape the attack.
- Seek immediate shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle. Isolate yourself from the bees.
- Do not attempt to rescue a victim without the proper protective gear and training. Doing so could make you the second victim.