Lesson 2.8

Africanized Honey Bees in Arizona

Grades: 4-6

Essential Skills: Health, Science, Language Arts, Math

Duration: 1 - 2 class periods


Students learn about the value of honey bees to Arizona agriculture. They will learn the major similarities and differences between Africanized honey bees and European honey bees. They will realize the potential danger of Africanized honey bees and what to do if involved in a stinging incident.


Teacher Preparation:

Curriculum Support Materials:

  1. Poster 1. Honey bee collecting pollen
  2. Poster 2. Honey bee swarm in a tree
  3. Sample AHB and EHB in plastic

Other Materials:

  1. Africanized honey bee information bulletins (Appendix)

Information Sheets:

Activity Sheets:

Lesson Plan

Introduction activity (10 minutes)

Write the words "honey bees" on the chalkboard or flip chart.

Brainstorm what the students already know about honey bees and some of their general attitudes about bees and insects. Have students list concepts or thoughts that come to mind when they think of bees.

Activity 2 Spelling bee (30 minutes)

Use Information Sheet 12 as a reference for all the ways insects may be beneficial. Stress the economic and ecological value of honey bees, emphasizing that almost 200 crops are dependent upon pollination by honey bees. Using the list of crops as a vocabulary, conduct a spelling bee.

Activity 3 Insect origins (30 minutes)

Explain that honey bees are not native to North or South America. Have a student indicate where North and South America are on the map.

Explain that there are now two main types of honey bees in the United States, the Africanized honey bee (AHB) and the European honey bee (EHB). Have a student locate where the United States and Europe on the map.The European honey bees were brought to the Americas by European settlers in the 1600's and 1700's.

Explain that many insects are named according to the place where they are first found. For instance, the parental stock of the Africanized honey bee originally came from the continent of Africa and the parental stock European honey bee originally came from various locations on the continent of Europe.

Provide students with a list of insects named after place of origin and have them identify on the map the place where the insects were discovered or originated.

Using a map of Arizona, locate the areas of the first 25 finds of AHB's. Discuss why the finds are located in the pattern found, such as along the Santa Cruz River, along the Colorado River, etc.

Activity 4 Bee safety (30 minutes)

See Lesson 1.8 in Grades K-3. Pass around the sample bees in plastic so that students can observe that it is impossible to distinguish between the two types of bees. Discuss ways other than appearance that the AHB and the EHB are similar. Make a list on the chalkboard.

Discuss ways that the AHB and EHB are different. For example, Africanized honey bees are known to defend their colonies with less provocation and in greater numbers than the EHB. Make another list on the chalkboard.

Discuss ways that students might protect themselves against Africanized honey bees. Make a list of bee safety tips on the chalkboard. Emphasize that the best strategy is to RUN to the shelter of a house, car, garage or school, whatever is nearby. Don't worry if a few bees follow you inside, because they will quickly become disoriented. Emphasize that students should not jump into water, just run away fast.

Give students AHB Nesting Sites ( Activity Sheet 24). Have them work individually or in small groups to identify potential nesting sites.

Discuss with students ways to reduce potential nesting sites and "bee proof" their homes. For example, keep their toys, old boxes, or trash picked up. AHB's are less selective about nesting sites, and have even set up housekeeping in a discarded soda can.

Also discuss with your students that because honey bees are defending their homes against enemies, they tend to target dark furry objects. That means your pets are in special danger. Emphasize that children should not run to a pet that is being stung, because they will be stung themselves. Notify an adult.

Have the students investigate Africanized honey bee safety tips and write a report.



Words with special meanings:

(for understanding only, not to be tested)

  1. Pollinate
  2. Africanized Honey Bee
  3. European Honey Bee
  4. Continent


Killer Bees, by Harriette Abels. Published by Crestwood House, N.Y., 1987.

Killer Bees, by Melinda Blau. Published by Raintree Publishers, Milwaukee, WI., 1977.

Killer Bees, by A. Potter. Published by Grossett and Dunlap, N.Y., 1977.

Here Come the Killer Bees, by L. Pringle. Published by William Morrow and Co., N.Y., 1986.

Killer Bees, by L. Pringle. Published by Morrow Junior Books, N.Y., 1986.

Killer Bees: The Africanized Honey Bee in the Americas, by Mark Winston. Published by Haravard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1994.

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