At this time, Africanized honeybees are not found in the Bay Area.
Africanized honeybees are more aggressive than European honey bees. They are quicker to defend their hives, more bees will participate in the defense, and they will follow a target (human or animal) further. This means that although their stings are not worse than European honey bees, they are more likely to cause injury or death to people or animals who are unable to escape their stings or who are allergic to bee stings.
It is very difficult for a casual observer to distinguish Africanized honey bees from European honey bees. You should always avoid approaching bee hives or swarms if you are not trained to handle bees.
If you disturb a bee hive, get as far away from the hive as you can as quickly as possible. Get inside a building or vehicle. Even if some bees come in with you, you will be protected from most of the attacking bees. Don’t jump into water; the bees will just wait for you to surface.
If you’ve been stung, remove the stingers from your skin as quickly as you can. Try not to crush or squeeze the bee – this will just release more venom.
If you are stung many times, if you experience symptoms, or if you know you are allergic to bee stings, seek medical attention. The stings of both Africanized and European honey bees can lead to death in sensitive individuals.
Page last reviewed: June 17, 2021