Friday, March 13, 2009

What are "Killer" Bees?

More properly called Africanized Honeybees, these come from a subspecies of honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) released accidentally in Brazil in 1957. They were imported from South Africa by a researcher who was attempting to produce a variety of honeybee better adapted to the tropics than the European Honeybee. Unfortunately, Africanized Honeybees not only produce honey better in hot climates, but they are also much more aggressive at defending the nest. Many people have been killed by mass stinging resulting from getting too close to a nest of Africanized honeybees. The escaped bees did well in the wild and began reproducing and expanding their range across South America into Central America and Mexico. They were recorded in Texas in October 1990, California in November 1994 and Oklahoma in 2004. Since they are adapted for tropical conditions, they may not expand their range beyond the southern part of the U.S., but that remains to be seen. They can tolerate up to 3 1/2 months of freezing weather.

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