Are deadly bees a concern for the Sacramento area?

There are over 1,500 bee species in California so it's likely you'll spot some buzzing around this spring.

You may have experienced a bee sting in your lifetime and it's safe to say, it's not pleasant.

In some instances, bee stings can result in an allergic reaction or worse, death.

A swarm of aggressive bees are responsible for killing a dog and injuring others in an attack Sunday evening in Ceres.

Can a similar attack happen in the Sacramento area?

It's highly unlikely.

"It'd be kind of like having a hurricane in California," said Lynn Kimsey, a professor of entomology and the director of Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.

The attack in Ceres is "really, really, really unusual" and not likely to be repeated, according to Kimsey.

Honey bees are the only social bees found during this time of year and they are not a bee species known to be aggressive. Social bees are bees that live together in colonies, as opposed to solitary bees which nest alone.

The case in Ceres likely involved Africanized honey bees, more commonly known as "killer bees" given the aggressive nature of the bees, explained Kimsey.

"It's such atypical behavior for commercial honey bees," said Kimsey.

It's possible the hive's beekeeper in Ceres either knowingly or unknowingly kept killer bees. The bees would have to undergo genetic testing to be positively identified.

Africanized bees are rarely seen in Northern California unless they're in someone's beehive because they are not tolerant to cold weather. However, killer bees started appearing in the Bay Area in 2014, although their presence is sparse.

They are found more commonly in Southern California due to the warmer climate. 

Killer bees shouldn't be of any concern for people in the Sacramento region.

What happens if you do encounter an aggressive form of bees?

If in the very rare case, a swarm of bee attacks, it'll take a couple hundred stings to kill a person, according to Kimsey.

A smaller animal, such as a dog, can only handle about 20 stings.

"It would kill you not because of the venom but because of the amount of formed protein," said Kimsey .

The overload of protein is actually what causes the body to go into shock or can cause an allergic reaction.

If you encounter any type of wild beehive, the best thing to do is move away quickly. If a swarm approaches, don't swat at the bees because it agitates them.

"Run and don't stop," said Kimsey .

Africanized bees are known to chase people even up to one mile, according to Kimsey. 

It's best to get as far as possible, aiming to get indoors. Don't jump into pools or bodies of water because killer bees have been known to wait for people to surface.

When in a safe location, call for a bee professional or emergency services.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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