Insects and Spiders - native

Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.) on Aug 1, 2009

Originally reported as Africanized Honey Bee (Apis mellifera scutellata)

Submitter does not have a specimen

Description of specimen

My husband and I were hanging out in the water today, as well as our small dog. A bee followed us from the car out to the water. It would not leave us alone, and we became frustrated. My husband was bitten by what we think is a horsefly, and he killed it. He then killed the bee that was aggressively coming after me. He killed the second one at which point he realized that the bee was very large, (obviously agressive as I said) and was possibly an Africanized bee.

We decided to flee immediately, but calmly. By the time my husband and I made it back to the car, there was a swarm of bees and we had to quickly jump into the car. Even as we drove our car away, these things were following us as we were driving down the maintenance road. We eventually were able to get away safely.

I have never, ever seen such an aggressive insect in my life. I am not sure if these were African bees or not. I am not even sure if African bees are in this area. I do know that had we stayed a minute longer, the bees were going to continue to multiply, and it was very scary.

We have a 4 year old, and we saw many families on this road today as well. I don't even want to think about what would've happened had we been there with our child. Either way, if we are the first people to experience this, it will not be the last and I don't want some unsuspecting person to be a victim of these attacks.

Just wanted to pass along the information. Thanks!


Kam, thank you for your report. It is very likely that the bees you described are bumble bees (Bombus melanopygus), a common bee that is aggressive towards humans and commonly nests in bird houses, mouse nests, or the ground this time of year. You can access some additional information about this species at this website - Bumble bees were the featured "species of the month" in 1993 on this site.

This species of bumble bee is commonly known as the orange-rumped bumblebee, and is a species of bumblebee native to western North America from British Columbia to California and as far east as Idaho. They live in organized groups, with a queen, drones, and workers.

A September 2006 report for the California Department of Agriculture said this about competition between introduced honey bees and native bumblebees: "The negative effect of competition of food sources presumes that the availability of food sources is limited. In the case of introduction in agro eco-systems with a pollination deficit this would not be the case."

Here's another good website on native bumblebees:

Thank you again for your report, and I'm sorry you had an unfortunate experience with these bees.

Lisa DeBruyckere
Aug. 13, 2009, 1:50 p.m.