April showers bring…scratch that. No showers around the Phoenix area lately! But April definitely brings spring – which means blooming flowers and plants. These also mean allergies and bugs, especially bees. We can’t do much for your allergies, but we can definitely help with the bees. Here’s some information to get you started, specifically on the Western Honey Bee.
What is the most common type of bee in Arizona?
That’s easy! The Western Honey Bee.
Is the Western Honey Bee aggressive?
Typically, the Western Honey Bee will only sting when provoked or when protecting its hive. The key is to understand what these bees consider to be provoking or threatening behavior. Obviously, it’s best to give them a lot of space and to avoid their hives at all costs. However, they can also be disturbed or provoked by loud noises made near their hives. In fact, the local news recently reported on a bee attack on a man and a firefighter in central Phoenix. But in general, you should be safe as long as you are being mindful of their presence and doing your best to leave them alone.
Where am I most likely to encounter the Western Honey Bee?
This species of honey bee is distributed throughout the world, so you’ve likely already encountered them many times. In the wild, they often hide in holes of trees and in rock crevices. Around homes, they will “set up housekeeping” in the eaves of homes and attics. (Housekeeping is when bees are setting up a new hive to reproduce and to make honey.) Other places they may set up shop include irrigation boxes, old tires, under sheds, and in crawlspaces under mobile homes.
Is there anything else I should know about the Western Honey Bee?
Here are a few more little tidbits about them:
- They live between 122-152 days.
- The may also “Ball up” in trees and bushes on the sides of homes. (“Balling up” is when a colony of bees swarm together in the air, off the end of a branch, etc., while they search for a new home. It often happens in the late afternoon, and may move to another location the following day.)
- They live according to an internal class system. The hierarchy is:
- One queen per colony. She lays the eggs.
- Hundreds of male drones. They all compete to mate with the queen.
- Thousands of worker bees. They maintain the hive and the colony.
- New queens leave their old hives in late spring and summer with thousands of worker bees to form new colonies. They will spend up to 24 hours looking for a new nesting place. Most of these swarms are harmless and will only attack if provoked.
Check back later this week for our article on the Africanized Honey Bee (a.k.a., “Killer Bee)!