Bees You’ll Come Across in Arizona

It’s no wonder Arizona is known for its stinging insects. The Grand Canyon State is home to around one thousand native bees, some of the most common being Bombus terrestris, Megachile lagopoda, and Apis mellifera.

All bees have three body sections: the abdomen, thorax, and head. The abdomen holds the female’s sting as well as digestive organs. The legs and four wings, two forewings and two hind-wings coupled by small hooks, are attached to the thorax. The head bears the eyes, antennae, mandibles for biting, and the proboscis, which the bee uses to drink nectar.

Bees that leave the hive, usually in the spring, to create a new hive, are called swarms. Popular spots for swarms to claim include tree hollows, crawl spaces, grills, sheds, and garages.

Bee species

Have you ever seen a cartoon featuring a cute, colorful bee that goes on adventures? That bee was probably inspired by Bombus terrestris. Bombus terrestris has big and fuzzy stripes in yellow, orange, or off-white against a black body. It can grow up to 1.1 inches.

B. terrestris is a social creature. Its colonies can be underground, under boards, or in rodent burrows. Flowers like tomatoes, which have pored anthers, help it pollinate.

Apis mellifera is usually known as the honey bee. This social bee lives in colonies of 30,000 or even more. In nature, it likes to build colonies in tree hollows or rock outcrops.

It has black stripes across its orange body, a triangle-shaped head, and golden brown hair, even on its eyes. It measures only 0.59 inches and rarely stings. Apis mellifera might be the least intimidating bee in Arizona.

However, one subspecies of A. mellifera, Apis mellifera scutellata, does not have its relative’s gentle disposition. Apis mellifera scutellata, which is often called the Africanized bee, looks just like A. mellifera and is about the same size. The difference is in personality and numbers.

If you threaten its hive, by stepping on it or walking into it accidentally, for example, it can pursue you for a quarter of a mile. While a bee can sting only once, A. mellifera scutellata will chase threats to the hive in hordes. Once is enough, especially if you’re allergic to bee stings.

When A. mellifera scutellata stings, the stinger releases a strong chemical called a tagging pheromone that, when released near a hive, tells the hive’s other residents that it’s time to attack and defend.

Preventing bees from building hives near your home

Protect your home and loved ones by taking these steps to prevent a bee hive from building built in or near your property:

  • Cover or fill all the gaps in trees and walls on your property. Swarms look for holes where they can build a hive.
  • Avoid eating fruit or drinking sweet beverages outside. Bees feed on nectar from flowers, and they’re attracted to syrupy items, mistaking them for their own food.
  • Take your trash out and clean out your trash cans regularly. Bees can travel for miles looking for food, and if they find some in or around your trash can, they might start a new hive nearby.
  • Paint or treat all outdoor wood surfaces. Many bees like to build hives around unpainted wood.

Most bees are friendly pollinators with no intention of harming humans. However, the few bee species that can hurt us need to be removed by trained professionals. SOS’s bee control services can help treat bee infestations without affecting the benefits that bees provide.