Types of Bees found in California
Southern California is home to three types of bees — Africanized, European, and bumblebee. All of Southern California’s bees play an essential role in pollinating the region’s flowers and crops. Due to the decline in the bee population, we do our best to save as many colonies of bees as we can.
Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized honey bees are an introduced species of honey bees to Southern California and the United States, created by Brazilian researchers in the 1950s. These researchers attempted to create a hybrid between the European honey bees and African honey bees.
Since that time, Africanized honey bees have migrated northward to North America. Africanized honey bees are more aggressive when defending their hives than their European and bumblebee relatives. When threatened, these bees attack invaders in large groups and will not relent until they have driven the threat far away from the hive. Africanized Honey Bees will often follow and attack their threat up to 300 yards away from their hive.
If you notice an overactive and overly aggressive hive in, on, or around your property, there is a good chance they may be Africanized Honey Bees. Over the last several years, we have had an increasing number of sightings here in Southern California. Where most people’s immediate response is to kill the “Killer Bees,” we have the tools, knowledge, and patience to take an aggressive Africanized Honey Bee colony and work with them to change their temperament.
European Honey Bees
Another introduced bee species to the United States are the European honey bees. As their name implies, European honey bees are native to Europe. They arrived in the New World during the 17th and 18th centuries. These bees are more docile in nature than their Africanized counterparts. Also, most beekeepers in Southern California use European honey bees for honey production; European honey bees are known for storing nectar during the winter. European honey bees are larger than Africanized honey bees. These bees usually attack hive invaders alone rather than call on the entire colony for defense.
European Honey Bees, often called Western Honey Bees, are the most common type of bee here in Southern California. Although they are more docile than Africanized Honey Bees, don’t be fooled. When they feel threatened, they too will attack and sting you pretty well. If you notice a beehive in a tree, wall, or fence area, be sure to give us a call.
One of the largest bee species in Southern California is the bumblebee. Two different species of bumblebees live in Southern California, the bumblebee (Bombus genus) and cuckoo bumblebee (Psithyrus); Both grow to 1 to 2 inches long. Bumblebees differ from honey bees since they do not have barbed stingers; this means their stingers do not detach when they sting so that they can sting multiple times. Bombus bumblebees are social bees with a caste system of workers, drones, and queens. Cuckoo bumblebees are parasitic and lay their eggs in the hives of other bumblebees.
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