Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) -- also called Africanized bees or killer bees -- are descendants of southern African bees imported in 1956 by Brazilian scientists attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.
When some of these bees escaped quarantine in 1957, they began breeding with local Brazilian honey bees, quickly multiplying and extended their range throughout South and Central America at a rate greater than 200 miles per year. In the past decade, AHB began invading North America.
Africanized bees acquired the name killer bees because they will viciously attack people and animals who unwittingly stray into their territory, often resulting in serious injury or death.
It is not necessary to disturb the hive itself to initiate an AHB attack. In fact, Africanized bees have been know to respond viciously to mundane occurrences, including noises or even vibrations from vehicles, equipment and pedestrians.
Though their venom is no more potent than native honey bees, Africanized bees attack in far greater numbers and pursue perceived enemies for greater distances. Once disturbed, colonies may remain agitated for 24 hours, attacking people and animals within a range of a quarter mile from the hive. Bee Invasion?
Africanized bees proliferate because they are less discriminating in their choice of nests than native bees, utilizing a variety of natural and man-made objects , including hollow trees, walls, porches, sheds, attics, utility boxes, garbage containers and abandoned vehicles. They also tend to swarm more often than other honey bees.
The first swarm of Africanized bees was detected in the U.S. in October, 1990 when they were captured in a baited trap at the border town of Hidalgo, Texas. AHB colonies were first reported in Arizona and New Mexico in 1993 and in California in October, 1994. Within a year, more than 8,000 square miles of Imperial, Riverside and northeastern San Diego counties were declared...
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