|KILLER BEE (Apis mellifera scutellata)
Killer Bees, also called Africanized Honey Bees are a cross between African Bees and European Bees. The African Bees were taken to Brazil in the 1950’s in order to breed them with European Bees which didn’t survive well in the Brazilian climate. It was hoped that the resulting cross-breed would help pollinate the crops in Brazil. However, what actually happened was the creation of a bee which is extremely aggressive and invades native bee territory, driving some species to or near extinction.
These Killer Bees have been blamed for more than 1000 human deaths since their accidental introduction in 1956 in Brazil. They are moving northward at a rate of about 200 miles a year and are currently in the mid-United States. Killer Bees adapt easily to new environments and pollen collecting sites, so they can quickly establish new colonies.
Like other bees, they have a caste social system. The top member of the society is the Queen, who is the only bee in each colony to have babies. The drones take care of the queen and her many eggs and larvae, while the workers collect pollen. There can be anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 worker bees in a well-established colony.
The honey bee dance is a well-known way that they tell other workers where rich food sources are – they wiggle their bodies and wings and turn in certain directions to indicate distance and direction.
A honey bee queen can produce over 200,000 eggs per year. Honey bees start out as eggs, and then turn into larvae. They will go through 5 larval stages before they pupate. When they emerge, they will be adult bees.
The extra-large eyes of Africanized Honey Bees can see ultraviolet light, allowing them to fly in the dark. They do not usually attack without being provoked, but they are sensitive to disturbance, so even making a commotion near them could cause them to attack. When they do decide to attack, they swarm in masses and will follow whatever they are chasing for a quarter of a mile before they give up.