Protect yourself from Africanized honey bees

Colonies of Africanized honey bees (also called "Africanized bees" or "killer bees") are found more frequently in South Florida lately. Imported to South America in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better suited to tropical regions, some of the bees escaped quarantine and began breeding with local Brazilian honey bees and have since moved north; in the last 10 years, the bees have found in North America.

Attacks from these aggressive bees may result in serious injury or even death. The Broward Sheriff's Office offers these tips to help you stay safe:

  • Check your property regularly for bee colonies. Honey bees nest in a wide variety of places, especially Africanized honey bees. Look for bees in work areas before using power equipment. Check animal burrows, water meter boxes, overturned flower pots, trees and shrubs.
  • Keep pets and children indoors when using weed eaters, hedge clippers, lawn mowers, chain saws, etc. Attacks frequently occur when a person is mowing the lawn or pruning shrubs and inadvertently strikes a nest.
  • If you encounter a swarm, run as quickly as you can in a straight line away from the bees. Do not flail or swing your arms at them, as this may further annoy them. Get to the closest house or car as quickly as possible. Don't worry if a few bees become trapped in your home. If several bees follow you into your car, drive about a quarter of a mile and le the bees out.
  • Because bees target the head and eyes, cover your head as much as you can without slowing your escape.
  • Don't jump in the water. Africanized honey bees can wait longer than you can.
  • Avoid excessive motion when near a colony. Bees are much more likely to respond to an object in motion than a stationary one.
  • Don't pen, tie or tether animals near bee hives or nests and never attempt to remove a nest yourself. Find a reputable pest control company that specializes in bee removal. Check with your local cooperative extension office or the State Department of Agriculture &Consumer Services for trained and licensed pest control operators in your area.

If you're attacked:

Call BSO Fire Rescue only when emergency medical services are needed. If someone has been stung by many bees at once or has an allergic reaction to a bee sting, call 9-1-1. Call if someone has become trapped in a building or car with many bees. BSO's fire trucks are equipped with foam that can be sprayed on the bees to drown them. Don't call BSO Fire Rescue and ask for the hive to be removed; contact a pest control company.

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