Honey Bee Ecology from an Urban Landscape Perspective The Spatial Ecology of Feral Honey Bees Chapter uri icon


  • 2014 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Urban environments provide suitable habitats for feral honey bees, especially in the desert Southwest where urban areas may provide a more continuous supply of floral resources than surrounding natural areas. Studying honey bees in urban environments can be challenging due to logistical constraints, but health and safety concerns about Africanized honey bees have made understanding the urban ecology of honey bees increasingly important. We describe two data sources for Africanized honey bees in the greater Tucson metropolitan area. The first dataset consists of honey bee colony and swarm removals from 1994 to 2001 compiled from the records of a company specializing in Africanized honey bee control. The second dataset contains removal data from water meter boxes from 1996 to 2008 based on water company records. The first dataset represents point data, whereas the second dataset represents lattice/grid data. We discuss approaches for analyzing these different types of spatial data using these datasets as examples. We use the first dataset to evaluate spatiotemporal patterns in the distribution of Africanized honey bees and the contribution of precipitation to those patterns. We use the second dataset to identify characteristics associated with Africanized honey bee occupancy of water meter boxes. The two datasets combined provided over 14,000 records of colony and/or swarm removals for the study area. We found that after Africanized honey bees became established, colony removals were clustered in space and time. We also identified winter precipitation as a good predictor of the number of honey bee removals, with colony and swarm removals increasing following a wet winter. Water meter boxes in residential locations were more likely to be occupied than those in commercial locations. Occupancy was also associated with smaller lots, older structures, and closer proximities to vacant land. Water meter boxes were more likely to be occupied if neighboring water meter boxes had been occupied. The spatial analysis of these two nontraditional sources of data provided important insights into the biology and ecology of feral honey bees in the greater Tucson metropolitan area, with implications for developing control strategies for Africanized honey bees.

author list (cited authors)

  • Baum, K. A., Tchakerian, M. D., Birt, A. G., & Coulson, R. N.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Baum, Kristen A||Tchakerian, Maria D||Birt, Andrew G||Coulson, Robert N

Book Title


publication date

  • January 2014