Something you would expect out of an H.G. Wells’ novel, the ‘killer bee’ is science fiction come true. Picture this: a group of well-meaning scientists hope to create the future of the bee; a stronger version of the original. This new bee will pollinate more and live longer as well as prosper in more tropical areas where bees are not as prevalent. The solution? Bring a small collection of African honeybees to Brazil to run tests and recreate Mother Nature’s version. But, as the movies have always predicted, some of the bees escaped. Mating with the local honeybee may not seem like such a bad idea. But neither was Frankenstein’s monster at first. After the bees mated and started to spread, it was clear that these were no ordinary honeybees. Larger? Yes. Better producing? Definitely. But at what cost?
The ‘Africanized Honeybee’ or ‘killer bee,’ as it has been nicknamed, has proven to be the bee you would expect in an experiment-gone-wrong horror film. The Killer bee is extremely aggressive and easily disturbed. The slightest of movements can set off an entire colony on a vicious attack that can last long distances and involve a swarm of hundreds. The effects of a Killer bee sting are not significantly different than the sting of a European Honey bee. The danger lies in the quantity of stings that can occur when attacked. The likelihood of being stung once by a killer bee is unlikely. If you have angered the colony, you will be stung several times by members of the swarm.
In 2009 in Las Vegas, NV, a 53-year-old man was operating a backhoe on a construction site when he unknowingly disturbed the ground nest of a large Arficanized Honey bee colony. Scott Allison of the Clark County Fire Department informed Southern Nevada newspapers that ‘It was like something right out of a movie.’ Hospital authorities reported that the worker was stung several hundred times all over his body. Luckily, the fast thinking firemen turned a firehouse on the man and the bees. They were able to get him to the hospital just in time to save his life.
Killer Bee Hives
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the Killer bee will place its hive. Killer bees prefer water and will guard it mercilessly. They have also adapted well to dry desert climates and often will create ground nests that give few outward signs of a colony home to hundreds of angry bees. Reports of those stung generally describe the hive disturbance as being unwitting; with no clue they were on the bees’ radar.
Killer Bee Map
Killer bees have yet to breach colder climate states such as Northern Nevada and Wyoming, but even that area may not stay immune for long. Once the hybrid bees emerged, they migrated north, first entering the United States through Texas in the early 1990s. Since their arrival, other southern and western states have cited Killer bee colonies. Killer bees will most likely continue to move north, especially if they learn how to adapt to surviving cold winters. Currently, the largest masses of the Killer bee are in California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Killer Bee Map
Killer Bee Control
The question remains; how do we control the Killer bee, or do we simply let nature take its course from here? With the North American Honeybee in danger of extinction, scientists find themselves in a bit of a quandary. Bees are necessary in the pollination process, and therefore hold a vital part in our food chain. With the decrease in the regular bee population, farmers have seen a significant downturn in crop production and a possible threat to the U.S.’s agricultural sector. The hybrid Killer bees have proven that they are just as ideal for pollinating. The Killer bee may become the backup pollinator for our diminishing American honeybee. For the time being it seems that people will have to take extra precautions against the killer bee, as it may be the means of saving US farm crops.