Africanized bees extend their distribution in California
Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera) arrived in the western hemisphere in the 1950s and quickly spread north reaching California in the 1990s. These bees are highly defensive and somewhat more difficult to manage for commercial purposes than the European honey bees traditionally kept. The arrival of these bees and their potentially replacing European bees over much of the state is thus of great concern. After a 25 year period of little systematic sampling, a recent small scale study found Africanized honey bees in the Bay Area of California, far north of their last recorded distribution. The purpose of the present study was to expand this study by conducting more intensive sampling of bees from across northern California. We found Africanized honey bees as far north as Napa and Sacramento. We also found Africanized bees in all counties south of these counties. Africanized honey bees were particularly abundant in parts of the central valley and Monterey. This work suggests the northern spread of Africanized honey bees may not have stopped. They may still be moving north at a slow rate, although due to the long gaps in sampling it is currently impossible to tell for certain. Future work should routinely monitor the distribution of these bees to distinguish between these two possibilities.