Killer Bee Invasion - The Day Africanized Honey Bees Moved In

In the course of my DIY adventures, something unexpected always happens. Of course, it doesn't usually doesn't happen when I'm unloading my truck, before the DIY'ing really starts.  

I'd pulled the truck directly up into the front yard, like a drunken hillbilly, to unload a monster load IKEA kitchen parts. It was a short, straight a path into the house.

Can you hear the banjos?

Can you hear the banjos?

The kids and I merrily started unloading the ka-jillion boxes packed into every available crevice of the truck.  Extra hands make short work; I'm glad we planned for this years ago, and decided to grow our own helpers. 


In a few minutes, we were just about done.  Nearing the end, I ambled out of the house, rubbing my shoulder, aching from lugging a particularly big and awkward section.  My daughter pointed over my head, gave a short scream and ran away.

Of course, I slapped the Dad smirk on my face. It's the look a Dad gets when a kid is being unnecessarily dramatic, probably because a ladybug flits past, 50 feet overhead. It's the facial equivalent of a pat on the head. 

I called her as I continued down the walk, glancing up behind me,  "Come on, Gracie,.. there's nothing to...

HOLY CRAP! The roof area of the entire wing of the house was engulfed by a massive, swirling swarm of bees. The lowest edge of the boiling mass was about 5 feet over me; it extended 30 feet in all directions. 

Forgive me for not getting a picture of it, but I was to busy dropping my Dad smirk and replacing it with a special slack-jawed, wide-eyed expression I created, just for the occasion. Keeping calm, I called out with a quick, "Uuuuuuhhhhhhhggttt!"  before remembering to use English again. 

I got Gracie to turn around and run back towards me; the two of us blasted under the swarm, with the loud buzz above us, tumbled into the house, and slammed the door. 

Though the widows, we watched the swarm drop in altitude. It extended from ground level, to the edge of the roof. After a few moments, it started to get more dense and move away from the doorway, towards the end of the house.  I ventured out through the garage door and peeked around the corner. 

The dark cloud of a swarm was thinning above the roof.

They were condensing around the corner. 

Bees. Bees, for sure. 

Around the corner is an ugly wooden enclosure that surrounds our electrical panel, sprinkler controls, and cable / telephone splices.  The swarm collected and condensed on it as they started creeping inside.  

I'd go back out every 10 minutes or so. They continued to compact together and invade the box.


Just lovely. 

My wife did some checking online and found some articles that explained how these swarms might just be passing through. Sometimes they're just looking for a place to hang their hats for an evening before moving on in search of their new home.  Most of the time they move on within 24 hours or so. 

They're Here To Stay

The next day, I ninja stalked over to take a look. A few scouting bees were zipping around, nothing much to see. Unfortunately, I could see movement in the darkness. I could hear the buzzing. There was a moving mass inside the cabinet; they were setting up shop.

I did some research on exctly  what to do. I know bees are crucial to life on this planet and that we're losing them at an alarming pace. One of the articles we read advised contacting a local, friendly beekeeper to come rescue them. Other articles, advised that our local bees are just too dangerous.

I'm not comfortable with dangerous bees 12 feet from our front door, so I decided to zap them with something to drive them off. I checked with my friends at Bug and Weed Mart. They'd helped me do a Scorpion Treatment recently and I knew they had great resources. I'm glad I checked this page. Basically, they say, there's a chance a swarm may be Africanized Honey Bees and to leave it to the pros.

Since I don't exactly own DIY beekeeping stuff, I called in an expert who stopped by to check it out. He arrived about 48 hours after the swarm had shown up. He confirmed it...

Africanized Honey Bees

Photo: Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,

Photo: Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,

Dang it. It turns out these little bastards have all but wiped out the helpful European Honey Bees in our area. Worried about my decision to have them exterminated, I called a local beekeeper who confirmed it. He told me they don't even make much honey, they just make lots of mean little bees.  He used to do those rescues, but these days he has to charge to come remove the bees.  

Here in Arizona, when it comes to friendly honey bees, we're screwed. We're overrun. These are killer bees, literally; they kill people.  

Enough of that nonsense.

Take them out dude.  

Photo:  DIY Garden

Photo: DIY Garden

Meanwhile, Across the pond...

In the UK, their population of good bees is getting overrun by wasps. Check out this cool post by my blogging friend Clive at DIY GardenThe Ultimate Guide to British Bees: How to Protect Their Declining Population.  

We're all in this bee thing together.  

The killer bee battle

My hired gun / bee fighter suited up and headed over to the enclosure. I asked if I could take photos, so he paced off a safe distance for me to stand. He warned me to hold my breath and hustle into the truck if the bees started coming after me. They'd zero in on the carbon dioxide from my scared breaths and get me. 

When he started poking around, they came out after him.

I kept some serious distance from those pissed-off rascals, shooting photos from the relative safety of the sidewalk with my longest zoom lens

I'm not a fan of killing stuff. In this case, I think it was the right decision. I don't think they suffered much, they literally fell out of the sky, dropping around me. 

Poor Bastard. But,..better you than me and mine. 

Poor Bastard. But,..better you than me and mine. 

A few minutes of his chemical horror concoction and it was nearly over. Apparently there was a big mess of them in the bottom of the cabinet. They didn't get out. Formations of scouts came in from time to time and attacked. He shot them down, hitting them as they flew.

When it had died down, the dude poked around for a minute before trudging over to me to report. With $195 in for the extermination, was hoping we were done, that the horde hadn't been making a hive.

Of course they were making a hive. It was a big honeycomb, yeah, yeah yeah,... it wasn't small, no,no, no,..

If we had left the bees to their own devices, apparently they would have filled the entire cavity with honeycomb within a week. Perfect. 

Left alone, apparently the pheromones would call in more bees. Not much choice here. It's gotta go. 

Another 60 bucks and the hive was gone. 

So much for my weekend electrical project. I wouldn't be going anywhere near that area for a few days.  

DIY or hire a pro? This time, I picked up the phone. Although I often came close to it, I'm not entirely an idiot.