Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as “killer bees”, are some hybrid varieties of the Western honey bee species, (Apis mellifera), produced originally by cross-breeding of the African honey bee A. m. scutellata, with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and the Iberian bee A. m. iberiensis. The hybrid bees are far more defensive than any of the various European subspecies. Small swarms of Africanized bees are capable of taking over European honey bee hives by invading the hive and establishing their own queen after killing the European queen bee.
African bees are characterized by greater defensiveness in established hives than European honey bees. They are more likely to attack a perceived threat and, when they do so, attack relentlessly in larger numbers. Also, they have been known to pursue their threat for a distance of over 50 yards. This aggressively protective behavior has been termed by scientists as hyper-defensive behavior. This defensiveness has earned them the nickname “killer bees”, the aptness of which is debated. Over the decades, several deaths in the Americas have been attributed to African bees. The venom of an African bee is same as that of a European honey bee, but since the former tends to sting in greater numbers, the number of deaths from them are greater than from the European honey bee. However, allergic reaction to bee venom from any bee can kill a person, and it is difficult to estimate how many more people have died due to the presence of African bees.
The sting of the Africanized honey bee is no more potent than another variety of honey bee, and they have a similar appearance. Africanized honey bees are more dangerous because they are more easily provoked, quicker to swarm, attack in greater numbers, and pursue their victims for greater distances. An Africanized bee colony can remain agitated longer and may attack up to a quarter of a mile away from the hive. Also African honey bees farm more honey than their European cousins a likely cause of their high metabolism.