An Africanized bee
Though the fervor has died down in recent years, attacks by Africanized bees, a.k.a. killer bees, still happen. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Africanized honey bees, otherwise known as killer bees, caused near-panic years ago when they first arrived in the United States. Though the problem of the dangerous bees is not as talked about now, they are still a serious problem.

Prized pig killed in Arizona bee attack

A story has been making its way around the newswires concerning a prized pig stung to death by bees in Arizona. A 200-pound beehive was being moved at a hog farm near Bisbee, a town near the Arizona-Mexico border, according to MSNBC. The bees attacked several of the farm’s animals including a 1,000-pound boar pig for more than two hours until the animal succumbed to its wounds. The bees also turned on a pregnant 800-pound sow, who lapsed into a coma and lost her litter.

Pheromones part of hostile behavior

Africanized honey bees, like other bee species, emit a pheromone when they feel they’re in danger. As the MSNBC article points out, the hogs got the pheromone on them, causing the bees to respond to a threat. Killer bees, once they detect the pheromone, swarm the invader. According to Wikipedia, Africanized honey bees are no more venomous than any other species of bee but are more aggressive, pursue intruders for longer distances and swarm in greater numbers than other species.

Attacks still routine

Killer bee attacks still occur, but few are fatal. Still, killer bee attacks are serious. A 95-year-old man in Redondo Beach, Calif., was hospitalized in August after being attacked by killer bees, according to CBS. Louis Todero was swarmed by the insects and stung more than 400 times. The stings covered virtually “every exposed inch” of his skin.

Around the same time, several schoolchildren were attacked in Cocoa Beach, Fla., when a ball struck a hive, according to ABC. There were 120 stings on 38 children, some as young as 5. Swarms have also been reported in Texas. Only one human fatality has been reported this summer, an 82-year-old in Brownsville, Texas. A horse, according to ABC, has also been reported to have been killed by killer bee attacks.

Aggressive killer bees have also been noted recently in New Mexico. In the Lincoln National Forest, according to Albuquerque, N.M., ABC affiliate KOB4, a warning was issued for hikers and trail riders to watch out for aggressive killer bee populations. A group of trail riders on horseback was swarmed near Ruidoso, N.M., according to KRQE, an Albuquerque CBS affiliate.

Keep away if possible

Killer bees first arrived in the United States in 1990, according to ABC, and they are not going away. People shouldn’t panic. Most deaths from bee stings are caused by anaphylaxis, or allergic shock. Killer bee hives should be given a wide berth and dealt with by professionals.

Sources

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44539808/ns/us_news-life/#.TnJv82WP-_0

CBS:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20097824-10391704.html

ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/latest-bee-attacks-raise-concerns-african-bee-population/story?id=14388806

Wikipedia on Killer Bees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_bee

KOB4: http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s2282598.shtml

KRQE: http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/local/southeast/killer-bees-put-sting-in-trail-ride

 

 

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