Bee Safety

Bee Safety
Every spring and fall, the El Mirage Fire Department receives many calls requesting assistance to handle swarms of bees. Normally, people and bees coexist very well; however, since the migration of aggressive Africanized honeybees (a.k.a. killer bees) to the Valley in 1993, many concerned callers have requested Fire Department assistance when they see a cloud of bees.

Africanized bees, as well as honeybees, are almost always present around flowering plants gathering nectar and pollen. A swarm, which may be as large as 60,000 bees or more, is looking to establish a new colony and may appear as a cloud of bees or a group formed like a ball clinging to a branch. They are rarely defensive unless provoked since they do not have a hive to defend and will most likely migrate to a new location rather quickly.

Bees are very beneficial to the environment. Nearly one-third of the United States food supply requires the common honeybee to survive. The common honeybee pollinates 130 different crops in the United States alone including fruit, vegetables, and tree nuts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, below are some ways to prevent bee stings:
  • Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothing that covers most of the body when planning to work outdoors where bees may be present.
  • Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and deodorants.
  • Avoid flowering plants when possible.
  • Remain calm and still if a single stinging insect is flying around. (Swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.)
  • If attacked by several stinging insects at once, run to get away from them and seek indoor shelter if possible. (Bees release a chemical when they sting, which may attract other bees.)
  • If physically moving away from the affected area is possible, do not to attempt to jump into water. Some insects (particularly Africanized honeybees) are known to hover above the water, continuing to sting once an individual surfaces for air.
  • If a bee comes inside a vehicle, stop slowly and open all the windows.
  • People with a history of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should consider carrying an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) and should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace stating their allergy.
  • If a colony has established itself in a neighborhood or a swarm has not moved on, everyone should stay away a beekeeper or an exterminator should be called.

If the bees are aggressive and attacking people or pets, call 911. The City of El Mirage Fire Department will respond to bee attacks; however the Department does not provide extermination services.