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UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County
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Ventura CA 93003
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Africanized Honey Bee

 

The original African bee gene pool that “escaped” consisted of several swarms, probably between 6 and 12. The exact number was never determined. So, several thousand individual bees escaped. However, each swarm has only one queen. So 6 to 12 queens carried the African genes into the resident European honey bee population in Brazil.

 

The genes for defensive behavior, which make Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) the threat they are, are still those that came from the original 6-12 individuals. I am told that the AHB that we will deal with here in Santa Barbara County is a much more docile insect than the original escapees in Brazil.
 
Even so, the colony’s defensive characteristics are still very strong. With all the crosses (well over 100 generations now) with European honey bees (EHB), much of the African characteristics still persist. They are apparently dominant genes and overrule the docile genes carried by EHB. Apparently, the hybrid is a much stronger, robust strain than EHB ever was.
 
The Brazilian, Central American, Mexican and Texas experience, to date, all indicate that the AHB hybrid will displace all wild EHB colonies in the areas it colonizes.Commercial bee keepers have been able to maintain, for the most part, relatively docile hives by re-queening colonies that seem to be getting too aggressive.