Selasa, 31 Mei 2011




African Killer Bees

African Killer Bee swarm
A swarm of African Killer Bees on the limb of a tree.
(Note: it is difficult to tell the difference between
a European Honey Bee swarm and the African Killer Bee swarm).

In 1956, a Brazilian entomologist went to Africa and selected 133 African Honey Queen Bees from various locations of the continent for the purpose of raising and establishing colonies that might prove to be good producers of honey in Brazil. Approximately 47 queens survived the trip back to Brazil where they were introduced into bee hives in Sao Paulo. Thirty-five colonies of the African Queens were moved to a Eucalyptus forest to undergo testing and experimentation. A covering device (queen excluder) was placed on each hive to pre- vent the queens from escaping. It appears that a beekeeper, who was visiting the entomologist, removed the covering allowing 26 colonies of the African bees to escape into the forest.
The bees established new colonies, quickly multiplied and spread to various parts of Brazil. The African bees received a great deal of notoriety in the following years to come. Most of the notoriety that these bees received in the United States came from movies depicting the African Honey Bee attacking people and viciously stinging them to death without provocation.
They were labeled the African Killer Bee because of their aggressive nature. This notoriety as a “Killer Bee” is maintained by the news media in general today when reporting on isolated incidents in this country.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive and comb in a hollow tree.
A European Honey Bee hive would appear virtually the same.

The scientific community of entomologists simply refer to the bee as the Africanized Honey Bee. It is this community of distinguished entomologists that have studied the African Killer Bee in detail. These scientists make reference to this bee as either the Purebred African Bee or the Hybrid Africanized Bee, the cross between the African Bee and the European Honey Bee. Although many of these scientists have studied the  independent of one another, in most cases their findings are all quite similar with the exception of a few not agreeing on the geographic limitations in terms of how far the African Killer Bee will spread into the United States and their ability to survive in cold weather.
There are a great deal of similarities and differences between the African Killer Bee and the Common European Honey Bee mentioned earlier (see the section on the Common European Honey Bee.) In brief comparison, the African Killer Bee produces its comb from a wax gland on its abdomen. The workers are all females, the result of a fertilized egg. The drones are produced in the same way as the Common European Honey Bee, the result of an unfertilized egg. The colony has a cast system of nurses, soldiers, workers, drones, and queens. The workers gather pollen and nectar and produce honey. The nurses feed the young emerging new born bees and the soldiers defend the hive. The drones mate with the queens and the queens lay the eggs to produce the other members of the colony. The color of the African Killer Bee varies, thus making it difficult to distinguish the two varieties apart. Therefore, it is very difficult to distinguish the African Killer Bee from the Common European Honey Bee. It is here that the similarities stop. The workers, however, are generally smaller than the Common European Honey Bee and begin to fly when they are about four days old. It normally takes a week and a half to two weeks before the Common European variety begins their first flight experience. The African Queen Bee lays almost twice the amount of eggs per day as compared to the European queen and the amount of honey produced with the African bee is less than the European Honey Bee. The African Killer Bee swarms more often per year (three to five times) as compared to the Common European Honey Bee (one to two times) on an average. The African Killer Bee is a poor pollinator as compared to the Common European variety. The aggressive nature of the African Killer Bee is 30 times greater than that of the European Bee, and they will inflict ten times as many stings.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive in the floor of a house.
A European Honey Bee hive would appear virtually the same.

Generally, the Common European Honey Bee will stop pursuing an intruder after 20 yards or so. But the African Killer Bee will often pursue an intruder up to a mile or more, often inflicting stings on non-intruders that were a considerable distance from the hive when it was disturbed. In the first three months that the African Killer Bee moved into Venezuela, there were 70 recorded deaths due to stinging incidents and today there are over 300 recorded deaths caused by the African Killer Bee. It is believed there are many deaths that have occurred from their stings, but they have gone unreported.
The Killer Bee is also responsible for the deaths of many livestock’s, such as chickens, goats, cattle, dogs, cats, and other animals in areas where they flourish. The sting from the African Killer Bee is no more venomous than that of the Common European Honey Bee.
The African Killer Bee is considered to be a poor pollinator and there will be a great deal of interbreeding between the Common European virgin queens and the African Killer Bee drones. The present population of the Common European Honey Bee will be drastically reduced to the Africanized Honey Bees with poor pollinating characteristics. It is estimated that an $18 billion industry of fruits, nuts and vegetables that depend on the European Honey Bee for pollination will drastically be affected.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive in the wall of the house.

According to the entomologists, the areas that will be affected first will most likely be Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. The Killer Bee will then migrate at a rate of 300 miles a year on an average heading north. Some entomologists believe the African Killer Bee will reach and flourish only as far as North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and southern Nebraska. Other entomologists believe that the African Killer Bee would infest the whole United States up to the Canadian border. I believe that although the southern states will be more heavily infested than those states above the 35 degree latitude line (such as Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southern New York, Ohio, Indiana’, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, southern Wyoming, Utah and northern California), the concentration per square mile will not be as great due to the colder climate and insufficient honey production of the African Killer Bee to carry them though the winter. There is a great deal of speculation as to how far north they will survive. I believe, we will know the answer within the next twelve years.
African Killer Bees
African Killer Bees can occupy a dog house.

The African Killer Bee has already invade Texas and some of the surrounding states such as Florida, in a few years following, may very well be one of the hardest hit because of its climatic conditions and the type of vegetation growing there. There is a great deal of concern since the Killer Bees has already entered the United States, they will take over weak-existing colonies of the Common European Bees. They may then be transported by commercial beekeepers into the northern states to pollinate apple, cherry, peach, and other types of fruit and nut trees located in the northern states.
This transportation of hives into the northern states could very well cause the African Killer Bee to infest these states at a quicker rate. Serious legislation will have to be considered to regulate the movement of these hives from the south into the north.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive in an abandoned fox or coyote den.

One of the interesting characteristics and dangers of the African Killer Bee is that the swarming colony will establish its hive sight in places that the Common European Honey Bee seldom does. For example, the Common European Honey Bees that swarm from hives generally build their hive in a hollow tree or between the wall and floor joists of a home or building or a similar place up off the ground. In addition to the boxes provided by beekeepers for keeping the European Honey Bee, the African Killer Bee will also establish its hive in this same type of place, but, in addition, they will build their hives in culverts under highways and roads, certain-sized drain pipes under driveways, fox and coyote dens, stored pipes at construction sites, hollow areas in rock cliffs, and other similar-type places.
African Killer Bee hive
Above: an aerial view of a culvert under the road or highway.
Below: An African Killer Bee hive established in
a culvert pipe running under the road or highway.

If you should encounter bees in places other than above ground, where the Common European hives are usually found, then you should assume they are either African Killer Bees or Yellow Jacket Wasps. (Yellow Jacket Wasps will be described in detail in another section.). There is one misconception concerning the African Killer Bee. After interbreeding with the Common European Honey Bee, it was commonly believed that the Killer Bee would become less aggressive. All indications are to the contrary; in fact, it appears that after a couple of generations of interbreeding, all of the characteristics of the original African Killer Bee become more dominant. It is believed that the continuing re-queening of commercial and hobby beehives with artificially inseminated European Honey Bee queens will be helpful in maintaining a more stable Common European Honey Bee population. It is also believed that in reality it may be difficult to get all the beekeepers to cooperate in re-queening because of the expense of such an endeavor and that eventually most, if not all, of the Honey Bees in the southern states will be Africanized. I believe that the Africanized Bees will coexist with the European Honey Bees in those states above 35 degree latitude line.
I feel strongly that every state in the United States will feel the affect of the invasion, either in terms of stinging incidents or in terms of the economic affect they will have on the vegetable, fruit, and nut industries. It is important that proper control measures be taken to protect our population against the African Killer Bee. The best weapon we have to combat them is to have an understanding of their behavior, have the ability to identify and locate their hives when they come, and to arm every home owner with the knowledge, techniques, and equipment to properly control them. I cannot speak for the rest of the United States, but I feel for certain that the citizens of the great state of Texas will not just sit back and allow the African Killer Bees to cross her borders knowing the devastation they can cause without putting up a good fight to stop them.
African Killer Bee hive
Cross section of prairie dog den containing an African Killer Bee hive.

I have outlined in Section Three of this book how to properly control the African Killer Bee in your home and yard and in those areas where they are commonly found. It is important that you read this section carefully and follow the step-by-step directions if you are going to be successful in dealing with them. I also urge you to contact your local, state and federal legislators to study this problem and to make sure your local authorities have a game plan and are properly instructed in dealing with the African Killer Bee and the problems they can cause.
I have only briefly touched the surface in this book concerning the African Killer Bee. There are a number of noted scientists who have studied this subject in depth and in great detail in an attempt to understand the African Killer Bee’s behavior in order to make predictions concerning the effects that they would have on our country. These scientists all agree that the African Killer Bee will have an adverse effect on us, thus prompting changes in the law that govern beekeeping and hive movements from one location to another. If the African Killer Bee cannot be stopped in Texas, then the rest of the country will feel its devastating economic effects in years to come. I believe that it will be during this time that the nation as a whole will appreciate how the Common European Honey Bee has benefited us for years without receiving the proper recognition it so deserved.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive in a hollow area of a rock cliff.
African Killer Bee hive
African Killer Bee hive in a drain pipe under a driveway to a home.

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