Africanized Honey Bee

Actual Size: ¾”

Characteristics: Brownish in color with black stripes; covered in fuzz.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Nests in large and undisturbed areas such as tree hollows or chimneys.


  • Typically nests near ground level.
  • Can become agitated when a person is within 50 feet of their nest.
  • Flies directly into their nest, unlike other bees that stop at the threshold.

Africanized Honey Bees in Memphis TN Metro Area

The Africanized honey bee gained infamy through media reports as the “killer bee,” resulting from the interbreeding of African bee subspecies and European honey bees. Identifying these bees from domestic honey bees is challenging, and they have established a presence across the southern regions of the United States. Their range includes Southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, as well as central and southern Memphis TN Metro Area.

Africanized Honey Bee Habitat

A notable distinction between Africanized and European honey bees lies in their nesting preferences. Africanized honey bees are less particular when it comes to selecting a nesting site. They tend to establish smaller colonies in various locations such as water meter boxes, cement blocks, barbecue grills, ground cavities, and even hanging exposed from tree limbs. In contrast, European honey bees are seldom found in these locations as they prefer larger nesting sites like chimneys and tree hollows. Unintentionally, humans often provide numerous nesting opportunities for these bees, which explains why encounters with Africanized honey bees are fairly common.

Africanized Honey Bee Behavior, Threats, or Dangers

Africanized honey bees can pose a public health concern because they have a higher tendency to sting compared to “regular” honey bees. While they are generally more unpredictable and defensive than domestic honey bees, they usually react only when their nests are threatened. Africanized honey bees can be provoked to attack by loud noises, vibrations, and the presence of large, dark-colored moving objects within a range of 50-150 feet from their colony. In some cases, they have been observed pursuing their victims for distances exceeding 500 feet. Individuals at the highest risk of an attack include children, the elderly, and those with disabilities, as they may have difficulty escaping from an aggressive swarm.

The venom of Africanized honey bees is no more dangerous than that of domestic honey bees. However, the increased number of bees involved in an attack can pose a greater danger to humans. If there is suspicion of an Africanized honey bee hive, it is advisable to contact professional bee removal company.