Defensive Honey Bees

Defensive honey bees are any bees from a managed hive, colony, apiary, or swarm that exhibit behavior that may jeopardize public safety. Defensive honey bee behaviors include, but are not limited to, characteristics of Apis mellifera scutellata (African honey bee subspecies)such as:

  • Guarding a larger territorial perimeter around the hive in greater numbers than is typical of Apis mellifera (European honey bee species).
  • Responding to minimal or no provocation into over-defensiveness, aggressiveness, repeated swarming, unpredictability, reactiveness, and agitation during, but not limited to, apiary inspection or human presence.

Honey bees foraging on flowering vegetation is considered normal and desirable. 

There are several African honey bee subspecies, some of which are gentle. The only way to tell if honey bees have scutellata genetics is by laboratory analysis, as they are similar in size to European honey bee subspecies and have the same amount of venom. The scutellata hybrid defense response deploys several hundred guard bees to distubances over 100 feet away, which can present a hazard to public safety.