Protect Yourself and Your Family from Stinging Insects

May 31, 2013


Division of Plant Industry

Summer wouldn’t be the same without bees buzzing around the flowers in the garden. The docile little European honey bee goes peacefully about her business, collecting nectar and distributing pollen, posing little threat to animals or humans. European honey bees generally sting only if directly threatened or attacked, and seldom attack in swarms. These bees are vital to our foliage and food supply and their honey lends a unique sweetness to our lives.

AHBSwarmNot so with the Africanized honey bee (AHB). Virtually indistinguishable from its European cousin, this bee can threaten our property, pets — our very lives.  These invasive bees are known for fiercely protecting their homes against intruders. They release an “alarm pheromone” after they sting, which signals other members of the colony to come and attack. In the case of AHB, an entire hive might attack.

If you live in Florida, south of Ocala, you should be aware of the possibility the AHB might be present in your environment. Always survey your surroundings, especially when outdoors, for stinging insects. Instinct may tell us to swat at a stinging insect, but  it is never a good idea to do that. This is especially true in the case Africanized honey bees (AHB).

Follow these guidelines to protect yourself and your family against possible attacks:

  • Teach children to notify an adult if they find a nest or swarm.
  • Have a plan and communicate it with your family for avoiding/responding to stinging insects.
  • In case of an allergic reaction, have a bee sting kit available.
  • Eliminate potential nesting sites. Check walls and eaves of structures. Plug holes.
  • Remain alert for bees. Look for bees in work areas before using power equipment such as weed eaters, lawn mowers and chain saws. Noise excites bees.
  • If bees begin to chase you, run away in a straight line, cover your face (particularly your nose and mouth) and get inside a building or vehicle. Even if a few bees get in with you, it is better than remaining outside where there is greater potential for larger numbers of bees and stings.
  • Contact a licensed pest control operator to remove the nest.
  • Remove the stinger by scraping it with a fingernail or credit card. Squeezing the stinger will release more venom.
  • See a doctor if breathing is difficult, if you are stung several times, or you are allergic to bee stings.

Be aware of your environment and stay safe. Call the FDACS Helpline, 1-888-397-1517, for more information, or print out this brochure for reference.


It is swarming season for the Africanized honey bee.  Check out what that means for you, your family and your property here.


3 Responses to “Protect Yourself and Your Family from Stinging Insects”

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