Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District

If You Discover A Swarm Or Colony Of Bees...

    Avoid the area and keep children and pets away from the swarm or colony.  Do not attempt to control the bees yourself.  Call a professional.  Please contact the District at (310) 915-7370 for assistance or referral.  In an emergency dial 911.

    As a general rule, stay away from all honey bee swarms and colonies.   If you accidentally encounter bees, do not panic, but remain calm and quietly retreat until the bees are out of sight.  If forced to run, use your arms and hands to protect your face and eyes from possible stings.  Quickly take shelter in a car or building.  Water or thick brush does not offer adequate protection.

    Do not disturb or tease bees, and do not try to remove bees yourself.  Do not shoot at, spray water at, throw rocks at, or douse bee colonies with chemicals.  This will only irritate the bees.   Also, do not attempt to control bees with aerosol pesticides.

GENERAL PRECAUTIONS

Listen for buzzing indicating a colony or swarm of bees.
Look for bees flying back and forth in a straight line.
Use care when entering sheds or outbuildings where bees may be established.
Examine work area before using lawn mowers, weed cutters, and other power equipment.
Examine areas before tethering or penning pets and livestock.
Be alert when participating in all outdoor activities.
Do not disturb a colony or swarm-contact a professional.
Teach children to be cautious and respectful of all bees.
Check with a doctor about bee sting kits and procedures if sensitive to bee stings.
Develop a safety plan for your home and yard.
Organize a meeting to inform neighbors about the AHB to help increase neighborhood safety and awareness.

Outdoor Safety

Keep pets and children indoors when using weed eaters, hedge clippers, tractors, power mowers, chain saws, or other power equipment until you are certain that no bee colonies are in the area.  Honey bees are sensitive to unusual odors and loud vibrations.  Attacks frequently occur when a person is mowing the lawn or pruning shrubs and trees, and disturbs a colony.
Keep alert for honeybee activity when outdoors.
Keep dogs under control when hiking.  A dog bounding through the brush is more likely to disturb bees than one following quietly at your heels.
Stay alert when horseback riding through brush or under low hanging branches where bees may have established a colony.
Keep animals away from apiaries, commercial hives, and bee colonies.   Numerous stinging incidents have involved animals either penned or tethered near established hives and colonies.
Leave the area quickly if you are attacked by bees.  The attack could last until the victim leaves the area.  Cover your face using your hands and arms to protect your eyes and mouth from the bees.  Seek shelter inside enclosures where the bees cannot enter such as a car, house, tent, or other building.  Do not jump into water for protection.

What To Do If Stung

FOR STINGS IN GENERAL:

Quickly move to a safe area.
Remove the stinger or stingers as soon as possible.
Scrape the stinger out with either a fingernail or credit card if readily available.  Pulling out the stinger with your fingers is also an acceptable method since research has shown that removing the stinger as soon as possible is more important than the actual method of removal when it comes to minimizing the venom received. 
Wash the sting area with soap and water.
Apply an ice pack for a few minutes to relieve pain and swelling.

FOR MULTIPLE STINGS OR HYPERSENSITIVE INDIVIDUALS:

Seek immediate professional medical care.
Remove the stinger or most stingers as soon as possible.
Count the number of stingers removed.  This information will assist medical personnel in treatment.
Watch for breathing and/or vision difficulties.

 

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