Africanized Honey Bee Range

Africanized honey bees can aggressively attack humans and animals they feel to be a threat to their hives. They are also capable of pursuing perceived predators for great distances. As a result, the Africanized honey bee has become commonly known as the “killer bee” in the media and popular publications.

In 1950s, scientists from Brazil imported a group of honey bee queens from southern Africa in order to breed a honey bee more easily adaptable to tropical climates. When a few of these bees escaped and bred with local Brazilian bees, the resulting offspring became Africanized honey bees. As they were capable of surviving in tropical areas, they spread quickly throughout South America during the 1980s.

They spread to Central America and Mexico in the late 1980s, and by the early 1990s, the Africanized honey bee range reached into the United States. Originating in Texas, the bees eventually swarmed through Arizona and California. Africanized honey bees now thrive in the southern areas of all tropical hybrid zones, such as the United States and northern Argentina.

Although the Africanized honey bee is a result of breeding with local bees, most of the characteristics of the original African bees remain. These traits include rapid growth in population, limited honey production, frequent swarming, aggression and the capability to survive with a diminished food supply. Africanized honey bees sometimes temporarily extend their range into areas with temperate climates even though cold weather conditions reduce both their survival and food supply.