The Africanized bee is a hybrid species of the Western honey bee. The Africanized bee was first identified in Brazil in the s, but it quickly spread through Central and South America after a handful of swarms escaped quarantine. The first Africanized bees in the United States were discovered in at an oil field in California. Then, in , the first permanent Africanized bee colonies arrived in Texas from Mexico. Africanized honey bees are dangerous stinging insects that have been known to chase people for more than a quarter of a mile once they get excited and aggressive. Africanized "killer" bees look so much like domestic honey bees that the only way to tell the two apart is by measuring their bodies.
Genetically modified bees
Biochemists have tracked down the brain chemicals that make so-called killer bees such ferocious fighters. The compounds, which seem to be present in higher levels in the much-feared Africanized honey bee, can make less aggressive bees turn fierce, according to a new study. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology in Urbana, who was not involved in the work.
What Do Africanized Bees Look Like?
We're open! Book your free ticket in advance. Africanised bees are notorious in the Americas for their aggressive behaviour, but these fierce little pollinators may be the answer to declining honeybee numbers. Their demeanour has earned them the terrifying nickname of 'killer bees', but relatively few deaths are caused in proportion to the number of colonies. Known only in North, Central and South America, Africanised honeybees Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier are a human-bred subspecies, first bred by scientists in Brazil to be a new honey-producing champion for warmer climates. Family-oriented and nest-proud, these bees will aggressively defend their hive, and they have a tendency to go all out when responding to a threat. In , Brazilian geneticist Dr Warwick E Kerr began to interbreed subspecies of the western honeybee. He chose a selection of European honeybees and the African honeybee A. The ambitious scientist aimed to isolate traits of each species and breed them into a new subspecies, combining the European bees' greater honey yields with the African honeybees' adaptation to warmer climates. However, the new hybrid bees also took on a less desirable trait from their African relations: their aggression.
Media reports and bad movies would have you think they are remorseless and unstoppable killers. They are a risk, but they are not coming to get you. Reputation: Killer bees are huge and are equipped with lethal venom. Reality: Killer bees are actually smaller than regular honeybees. Their venom is also less powerful.