When Killer Bees Attack

Written by on August 3, 2013 in Family - No comments | Print this page

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killer bee

We’ve all heard of the term killer bees, which is a euphemism for Africanized honeybees. While Africanized honeybees are very defensive when provoked, they are generally not a threat to people – unless you happen to antagonize them.

The following guide is an overview of how to protect yourself – and others – from killer bees if they should happen to attack.

1. Be Aware of Triggers

It’s vital that you’re aware of triggers that can instigate an attack, so you know how to avoid provoking one. One of the main triggers of an Africanized honeybee attack is hive disturbance.

Killer bees will attack when they think their hive is being threatened. Loud noises, strong odors (such as perfume), shiny objects, and dark clothing can also instigate an attack.

2. When Bees Attack, RUN!

If a swarm of killer bees attacks, don’t just stand there – run away! Don’t even stop to help other people (with the exception of small children, the elderly, or disabled.)

Call out to any other people in the area to get to a covered shelter – fast. When running from Africanized honeybees, run in a straight line – these bees are slow fliers, and can typically be outrun by most healthy people.

3. Protect Your Face

Pull your shirt up over your face as you run in order to protect it. It’s important to protect your eyes and other sensitive facial areas.

Do not flail your arms to try to swat the bees away – bees are attracted to movement, and if you happen to smash any bees, the corpse will emit a smell that attracts more bees.

4. Run Into the Wind

Killer bees are already slow fliers – running into the wind will make it harder to catch up with you.

5. Avoid Water

Despite popular belief, jumping into a body of water and will not protect you from killer bees – the bees will simply wait for you to come up for air. Hiding out underwater until the bees lose interest is a widespread misconception.

6. Run to a Building Shelter

Keep running until you find a building you can take shelter in. Some bees may follow you indoors, but most will get shut out. Those that do follow you inside will be disoriented by the indoor lights and fly to nearby windows.

If no buildings happen to be nearby, use whatever cover you can – blankets, towels, clothing, a tent – whatever happens to be on hand. Running through high weeds or bushes may also serve as cover. If your car is nearby, run to it and take shelter inside.

7. Take Stock Once You Have Outrun the Bees

Once you have taken cover, take a moment to catch your breath and regroup. Take note of those who have made it back with you, and attend injuries or allergic reactions.

8. Remove any Stingers

You will need to locate and remove all the stingers from your body. Do NOT pull the stingers out with your fingers or tweezers – that will only cause more venom to be squeezed into your wounds. Scrape the stingers out sideways with your fingernail, the edge of a credit card, or any other flat-edged object.

9. Seek Medical Attention if Necessary

If you are feeling ill, have been stung more than 15 times, or have reason to believe that you are suffering from an allergic reaction to the bee stings, seek medical attention immediately. Too many bee stings (more than 7-10 per pound of body weight) or an allergic reaction can wind up being fatal.

10. Notify Authorities

Notify the police or other local authorities so they can arrange for professional beekepers or pest control professionals to contain the swarm.

Being attacked by a swarm of Africanized honeybees is no laughing matter, but if you follow the tips in this guide, you should be able to walk away safely afterward. The most important thing is to be prepared, and know how to react if and when a swarm of killer bees comes after you.

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Stacy is a freelance writer who writes for the El Paso Pest Control blog.

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