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Africanized Honey Bees

When a group of Brazilian scientists imported bees from southern Africa in the hopes of breeding a bee adaptable to tropical conditions, several escaped and bred with local honey bees, creating the Africanized honey bee. They spread quickly to Central and South America, and today the Africanized honey bee also infests areas of North America.

Due to their aggressive reputation, Africanized honey bees are most commonly known as “killer bees.” Africanized honey bees are known to sting animals and humans when their territory is invaded, but they can also attack when seemingly unprovoked. Africanized honey bees are particularly sensitive to noise and vibration and can be instigated to attack by slight movements.

It is common to see large groups of Africanized honey bees around their hives, and they tend to swarm more often than other species of honey-producing bees. While the venom of Africanized honey bees is no more poisonous than that of domesticated honey bees, because they attack in large numbers, an attack can cause severe injuries or death due to the volume of stings. Africanized honey bees will also travel greater distances to attack, and once a colony of Africanized honey bees is disturbed, it could remain frantic for a period of time afterwards.

They will migrate when they experience a food shortage around their hives or if their hives are disturbed by a human. Africanized honey bees are unable to survive harsh conditions, such as excessive cold or extremely dry climates.

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