A Peculiar Bee
Daniel Beck Biology 1/11/13
A Peculiar Bee
Honey bees are not native to North America. European settlers brought them to America. This resulted in the North America’s honey bees being called the European honey bee (EHB).2 Honey bees are needed to pollinate farming crops which provide food for the country and honey to be used as a sweetener. In 1990, a new type of aggressive bee, the Africanized honey bee (AHB), was found in the United States.1 What is the effect of the Africanized honey bee gene on America’s honey bees? Striving to increase their countries production of honey, Brazilian scientists brought highly productive African honey bees to Brazil in 1957.2 Due to high temperatures in Brazil they tried to make an enhanced hybrid bee that would be resistant to heat and more productive. After breeding these new hybrids called Africanized honey bees (AHB’s), twenty-six colonies absconded from the breeding facility and quickly grew and mated with the neighboring EHB colonies.2 Soon it was discovered that Africanized bees have the unusual tendency to migrate (move the whole colony) when they have trouble finding food or when they feel threatened. AHB’s split (half staying, half moving) up to 6 times a year while the European bee may split once a year when a hive gets too large to support itself.2 The unwanted traits started to appear in the EHB hives. Over the last fifty years, AHB’s have been migrating (a trait only to AHBs) about 200 miles per year from Brazil northward.3 They were first recognized in Hildalgo, Texas in 1990 taking over the EHB hives.1 (fig. 1) This hostile takeover changed the EHB’s genetic code.
The Africanized honey bee has also been called “killer bee” due to its’ unique defense system that has killed over a thousand people. It is not that AHB’s have more powerful venom but that they attack