They will be busy.

Tucson's wet winter and extra spring wildflowers in need of pollinating undoubtedly will mean more bee activity.

It will be a "big year for bees," as colonies are expected to grow more than they do during drier years, which could lead to more swarms and interactions with people, said Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, research leader at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson.

As each colony fills its nest cavity, bees begin readying a new queen to move and establish a new nest. Once the queen is raised, some of the bees in the population leave the nest with her in a swarm, searching for a new nesting place, DeGrandi-Hoffman said.

With more pollen than normal to be had, more bees will be on the move.

People should be aware of their surroundings so as not to accidentally disturb a nest or swarm, possibly causing an attack, DeGrandi-Hoffman said.

Honeybees have a natural nest-defense behavior and will attack to protect their homes from a perceived threat, DeGrandi-Hoffman said. But they are less likely to attack while in a swarm.

However, Africanized honeybees make up a majority of the wild-bee population in Arizona, and they're known to respond to a threat more vigorously than their European bee counterparts, DeGrandi-Hoffman said.

Safety Measures

• Check your property regularly for bee colonies. Check animal burrows, water-meter boxes, overturned flowerpots, trees and shrubs.

• Keep children and pets indoors while doing yardwork. Attacks often occur when a person inadvertently strikes a nest.

• Avoid excessive motion when you're near a colony. Bees are much more likely to respond to an object in motion than a stationary one.

• Don't try to remove or exterminate the bees yourself. Call a local beekeeper or exterminator.

If you are attacked

• Run as quickly as you can away from the bees. Don't flail or swing your arms at them, because this may further agitate them.

• Bees target the head and eyes, so cover your head as much as possible.

• Get to shelter as quickly as possible.

After a sting

Scraping a stinger off the skin instead of pinching it off is not always best, according to a study on bee-stinger removal. More emphasis should be placed on removing the stinger quickly. After two seconds, the amount of venom entering the body is the same whether the stinger was scraped or plucked off, a study found.

Sources: P. Kirk Visscher, Richard S. Vetter, Department of Entomology, University of California-Riverside; Scott Camazine, Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University

When to call the Fire Department

Call 911 only if someone has been stung by many bees, has an allergic reaction to a bee sting or if someone is trapped in a building or car with many bees. The Tucson Fire Department will not respond to requests to remove bees from a property.

Source: Tucson Fire Department