On Wednesday, February 11, a press conference was held in St. George announcing the discovery of Africanized bees in Washington and Kane counties. Representatives from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD), public safety personnel and beekeepers presented information about the invasive insects, sometimes called “killer bees”.

“Our district is home to a dynamic natural environment that now includes African honeybees”, said David Heaton, Public Information Officer for the local health department. “We hope that encounters with these bees will be rare but want to make sure the public gets good information to avoid injury, especially children, the elderly, and people who spend a lot of time outdoors.”

What are Africanized Bees?

Africanized bees, sometimes called “killer bees”, are more aggressive than the domestic honeybee, although the naked eye cannot tell the difference between the two.

Africanized bees are more defensive of their nests and will sting in greater numbers. They swarm often and are not as selective as European bees in choosing their nesting sites, which can include ground level spaces. Nesting bees are more of a threat than swarming ones.

How can I protect myself?

•Eliminate potential nesting sites on your property by plugging holes in outside walls and eaves.

•Be wary of accessing water and electrical meters and irrigation valve boxes if you see bees around them.

 Tractors, lawnmowers, weed-eaters, and chain saws.  Noise excites bees.

What do I do if bees attack?

•Call 911 if an attack is occurring and people are involved.

•Run away quickly, covering your head and face, until you find shelter (such as a vehicle or building).

•Do not jump into water. The bees will wait for you to come up for air.

•Do not swat at the bees or flail your arms. Bees are attracted to movement and crushed bees emit a smell that attracts other bees.

•Once you escape, remove all stingers by scraping them out sideways with your fingernail, credit card, or other straight-edged object. Do not pull stingers out with fingers or tweezers, as this will squeeze more venom into the wound.

•If you have been stung more than 15 times, feel ill, or have reason to believe you are allergic to bees, seek medical attention immediately.

•Always carry an “epi-pen” if you are allergic to bee-stings.

For more information/safety tips, visit ag.utah.gov

Call (435) 634-5708 to report possible Africanized bee hives.