Not So Killer Bees: Some Basics on the Africanized Honey Bee

Contrary to popular belief, the Africanized Honey Bee, or Killer Bee as it is sometimes called, is not actually from Africa at all.  They are a hybrid that started in Brazil and escaped the lab on accident.  They are a cross between a European Honey Bee and an African Honey Bee.  While these hybrid bees do have the tendency to be more defensive, there are some that are not as hyperactive and aggressive.  Efforts have been made to re-queen the feral colonies with these “gentler” bees.  While they are frightening because of their aggressive nature, Africanized Honey Bees can be worked with.  Many commercial bee farmers in South America have been able to keep these bees with success.  However, while it is possible, it is not always a good idea to raise them.

Unlike European Honey Bees, African Honey Bees do not overwinter well.  This trait has been passed on to the Africanized Honey Bee.  This is why the norther parts of North America will probably not have a problem with an invasion of these bees.  The southern United States has seen these bees come in and some have even taken over colonies down in those states.  Some commercial bee farmers have re-queened their hives and have been able to restore order back to the chaotic hive.  

As dangerous as they sound with the nickname of Killer Bees, they do not kill very many people per year.  In fact, more people die from freak accidents concerning cattle than from the Africanized Honey Bee.  Yep, let that sink in for a bit.  All animals have the potential to be dangerous as do all insects.  Just be smart when you are around them.  You know, do not poke their hive and do not yell at them.  Do not flail about wildly since that agitates them. Run and cover your face until you get to an indoor shelter.  Do not get in the water as the bees will wait until you come up for air.  Running into the wind can help as it make it more difficult for the bees to keep up with you.