The scientific practice of the American biologist, genetics W. Kerr was aimed at breeding a unique species of bees. But the activity has earned a disrespectful attitude, since the result of many years of work was the killer bees. At one time, the bred hybrid became uncontrollable. This led to massive loss of life.
Appearance and features
The modern Africanized killer bee is larger than the usual insects. This is especially noticeable on the abdomen of the insect, at the end of which there is a sting and a reservoir with poison. The poison itself does not differ much in toxicity from the poison of an ordinary individual.
It has two pairs of wings, the front ones are much larger. The color is similar to the domesticated color, but less bright. The danger of the subspecies is that they attack in a swarm when signs of danger appear.
The irritating factor is not only the approach of a person to the hive. Insects are out of balance:
- transporting hives or raising them to a height;
- strong odors.
After the disappearance of the stimuli, they remain aggressive for eight hours. Similar situations cause irritation in the European breed, but the bee calms down much faster, in 1-2 hours.
The danger of this is that it is impossible to defend against flying, stinging killers with the help of smoke or water, which ordinary insects are afraid of.
The only thing that a person can do to avoid such a situation is not to approach the habitats of such families. Pets are at risk.
History of occurrence
The scientist did not set himself the goal of creating a dangerous hybrid. He wanted to create insects with the most stable characteristics. For this, Kerr crossed the representatives of the European breed apis mellifera scutellata with the African breeds brought in. The bees attracted the attention of the selector because of their exceptional characteristics:
- high efficiency;
- long period of honey collection;
- does not die after stinging the victim;
- disease resistance.
The scientist succeeded. As a result of selection, African killer bees appeared. They adopted not only the positive qualities of congeners, but also a lot of negative, even dangerous properties for humans. It so happened that during the selection, 26 families of the dangerous hybrid were free.
Insects do not differ in their way of life from domesticated ones. They live in large families, where there are workers, drones, and queens. Rotten trunks of dead trees are chosen for nesting. Having chosen a place, they line the nest with propolis, then build honeycombs.
Man seeks to tame the bee. For example, in Africa, Uganda, people are lured with homemade hives, which are placed high above the surface of the earth. Sometimes they settle in such houses, but after the first sampling of honey, they leave the hives. This is a characteristic behavior and is not the only one.
The assassins are aggressive, they are exceptional nomads. They often leave well-groomed hives and go hundreds of kilometers in search of more comfortable, safe conditions for life. Many scientists explain the high degree of aggressiveness by the fact that every family has an exceptional organization. To prove this fact, it is enough that they only attack in a swarm.
Killer bees are not picky about their habitat. They easily adapt to adverse weather conditions. Not so long ago, an increased number was recorded in Brazil. But nomads quickly spread to other countries. More “favorite” countries for mellifera scutellata are:
- Sri Lanka;
- southern regions of Russia.
It’s not hard to understand what the killer bee prefers over warm lands.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Africanized Bee
The distinctive advantages of the African killer bee are its high productivity. This applies to harvesting, to reproductive functions. Such positive characteristics are addressed to the queens. It is thanks to them that the family is growing rapidly, increasing honey productivity.
They are excreted in ordinary combs, which are filled with royal jelly containing the hormones mellifera scutellata. The development of an individual takes a short period of time. After 16 days, it reaches sexual maturity. The drone dies after mating with the uterus.
The breed is not susceptible to many diseases, but mellifera scutellata is a carrier of viruses and bacteria. There are cases when such a bee became the cause of the death of entire families.
The fertilized uterus is surrounded by a whole retinue of workers. She has a high reproductive capacity, worms constantly and lays about 2 thousand eggs per day. If it becomes noticeable that she has slowed down her pace, the bees will sting her or seal her cocoon. The female killer dies. Average lifespan is about 5 years. Insects have distinctive properties:
- are the best pollinators;
- resistance to various viruses.
In addition to the danger to humans, animals, there are characteristic disadvantages:
- poor survival during the wintering period;
- the cost of the uterus.
Professionals note that the cost of one uterus can range from 300 to 2 thousand Euros per piece.
The bee does not take root well in captivity. Due to the wayward nature, it can simply leave the apiary even after the first harvest. Moreover, leaving the former place of life, bees can “take” with them or later return for honey. Environmentalists are baffled by the massive uncontrolled reproduction of African bees. This can quickly lead to a complete replacement of cultivated insects with wayward and aggressive African ones.
Considering these facts, many beekeepers prefer not to breed such bees, even with their high productivity.
Danger to humans and animals
History knows cases of death of people from the bite of these insects. More than XNUMX deaths have occurred across America. The venom of African bees is not dangerous. But, given that they do not attack alone, hundreds of simultaneous bites become fatal.
The bites of 500 individuals of mellifera scutellata are equated with the bite of a rattlesnake in terms of impact strength.
A person with the absence of allergic reactions can have a hard time, but survive the attack of these insects. People who are allergic to their bites often die due to anaphylactic shock.
How to protect yourself from killer bees
You can protect yourself from the killer bee. It has already been noted that she is not afraid of smoke or water. Even a victim diving under the water will wait for a long time. An agitated swarm remains aggressive for eight hours. And if a new victim is not noticed nearby, they will wait for a person on the shore of the reservoir. They are capable of chasing up to half a kilometer, flying away from the nest and remaining in place with the aim of revenge.
The bee does not die after being bitten, but continues to inject the sting into the victim’s body. So far, there are no ways of protection, except for all kinds of chemical attacks. The best escape is to avoid the places where the murderer’s families live.