Pets & Animal Insects & Spiders

The Characteristics of Killer Bees

    Aggressiveness

    • Africanized honeybees will savagely defend their hives when disturbed, responding with triple the number of attacker bees as European honeybees. Africanized bees are tremendously sensitive to the smallest disturbance. Once aroused, killer bees are known to stay on the attack for several hours and will pursue anything that moves for distances up to 1 mile. This is due to killer bees having a heightened sensitivity to the hormone released by the African guard bees when they are disturbed. This "attack" hormone is found present in up to five times the quantity in Africanized bees than in European honeybees.

    Honey Production

    • Africanized honeybees are capable of producing superior quantities of honey due in part to their highly opportunistic foraging techniques. Africanized bees will forage for pollen during weather conditions that restrict European bees in their hive, including light rain. Killer bees can also extract pollen from a wider variety of plants species than European honeybees. Additionally, African bees begin foraging earlier in the morning and continue later into the day than do their European cousins.

    Reproduction

    • Africanized hives are capable of producing drones in greater numbers than are European bees. Opposed to European bees, where drones are only produced until the colony has reached sufficient numbers to sustain the hive, Africanized bees continue to produce bees to increase the colony's size. Once Africanized colonies reach an unsustainable size, drones are forced from the nest to begin a new colony, contributing to their explosive population growth.

    Colonization

    • Africanized bees regularly take over the hives of European colonies, establishing themselves in a ready-made hive in a proven and productive area. Africanized bees usually target European colonies that have recently lost their queen. However, Africanized bees are also known to kill a queen to take over the hive. The Africanized bees attach themselves to the outside of the European hive, until the European bees assimilate the Africanized bee's scent. The Europeans then allow the African invaders into the nest where the Africans promptly assassinate the European queen and take over the hive.

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