Africanized Honey Bee

Actual Size: ¾”

Characteristics: Covered in fuzz; brownish in color with black stripes that aren’t as distinct as those on wasps or hornets.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Prefer to nest in large nesting sites such as hollow tree cavities or chimneys


  • Known to be overly aggressive and can chase people for a long time
  • Fly directly into entry holes, unlike European honey bees that rest at the threshold of their hive before walking in
  • Demonstrate agitation and increased flight activity when a person approaches within 50 feet of their nest

Africanized Honey Bees in The North Bay and East Bay  of California

The Africanized honey bee was made infamous from its nickname of the “killer bee,” and is a result of mating between the African bee subspecies and European honey bees. These bees are not easily distinguished from domestic honey bees and have spread throughout the southern United States. These honey bees are known to be very aggressive; some have been said to chase people for more than a quarter of a mile in some instances.

Africanized Honey Bee Habitat

A common difference between Africanized and European honey bees is their choice of nest locations. Africanized honey bees are less selective when seeking out a potential nesting site. Colonies are smaller and have been found in water meter boxes, cement blocks, barbeque grills, cavities in the ground, and hanging exposed from tree limbs. European honey bees are rarely found in these locations as they prefer larger nesting sites like chimneys and tree hollows. Humans inadvertently provide multiple nesting sites for Africanized honey bees, which is why they’re frequently found in residential areas.

Africanized Honey Bee Behavior, Threats or Dangers

Africanized honey bees can be a public health concern because they are more likely to sting than “typical” honey bees. Although these honey bees are more unpredictable and defensive than domestic honey bees, they generally react only when their nests are threatened. Africanized honey bees are provoked to attack sources of loud noise and vibrations, as well as, large, dark-colored moving objects that occur within 50-150 feet from the colony. AHB’s have been known to pursue their victims for more than 500 feet.

The good news is that their venom is no more dangerous than that of domestic honey bees. However, these bees will attack in greater numbers, which poses more danger to humans. If under attack by an Africanized honey bee, run quickly in a zig-zag pattern and seek shelter indoors or in a car. And if you notice nests forming, always contact a licensed bee control specialist in your area.