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Spellbinding Facts About Killer Bees

Natasha Bantwal
Extremely hot-tempered, ultra-defensive, and super-sensitive - these are the best descriptions one would give to the 'personality' of the notoriously infamous Africanized honeybees, also known to most of us as 'killer bees'.
The nickname 'killer bee' is not completely accurate when it comes to describing their intentions. Due to an experiment that went wrong back in the 50's, killer bees have now spread all over South America and still continue to migrate northwards into the southern part of the United States.
This northward movement has enabled them to build large and strong colonies. This increases the threat of not only hundreds of people being stung by them, but also poses a threat to agricultural crops, because of the significant drop in pollination that was once provided by honeybees.
Evidently, they are not only considered to be a menace to society, but are also now being viewed as a hazard to the society's economy, because of this rapid spread of their colonies. However, you can't blame them for this, the blame lies on us, humans, for messing with Mother Nature.

About the Bees

These Africanized honeybees are a hybrid between African and European honeybees. They are best suited to survive in places with tropical climate.
  • Thus, in the year 1956, a group of Brazilian scientists thought they could improve these European varieties by introducing the African bee to their colonies. As a result of which, the killer bee was produced.
  • In the following year, swarms of these escaped the quarantine and started to establish different colonies. Some were also given to beekeepers, enabling them to migrate further up north into Central America.
The colonies began to disrupt the beekeeper's African bee colonies, causing a sharp decline in crop yields all over.
  • As the population grew, so did the number of stings that were sustained by humans and animals. They are more sensitive than their European counterparts.
  • They have the ability to sense danger from distances that are greater, they tend to strike more frequently, and are always found in larger numbers than the European ones.
  • Their recent appearance in the United States has been greatly publicized and this is how they were given their nickname 'killer bees'.
  • This however, had added an edge to the rather boring name of 'Africanized honeybee'. However, this nickname exaggerates their otherwise harmless intentions. As opposed to common misconceptions, African bees do not swarm the streets in search of innocent victims to attack, but instead, sting purely as a defensive measure, and so don't really intend to kill.
  • Despite their bad reputations for being more aggressive and violent than their European cousins, in reality they are smaller. This however, results in a development time that is shorter, thus enabling them to produce populations that are larger, creating a population advantage over the European stingers.
  • African bees are not required to store honey for the winters, because honey is only consumed for population growth and reproduction purposes.
  • What's more, these tend to abscond, leaving no workers, queen, or any other resources behind. There are two primary reasons why a swarm would leave their colony and move on. Firstly, when there is dire shortage of resources and secondly, when they are disturbed.
  • As the bees have continued migrating northwards, there has been rising panic observed in communities all over.
  • Most recently, this problem has affected places like Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico.The only thing which seems to stop their advance in certain places is the weather. These bees usually keep away from places where there is either regular rainfall or cold.
  • True, they are indeed a menace to society, however, aren't we to blame for doubting nature and tampering with it? Now, we have to bear with the consequences. It is very clear that experiments and 'improvements' can only lead to greater harm than doing good, especially when it involves such a delicate matter like the living patterns of living creatures.
  • Where they intend to head is uncertain, but the important lesson that people should learn from this is to never mess with nature. Since the very beginning of time, world has been and will always be able to sustain itself.
Lastly, because of the extreme similarities between killer bees and European honeybees, it is very important to refrain from playing with or aggravating any type. If you find any hives in your area, then have them removed professionally so as to reduce any risks of being stung.