Whatever happened to the killer bees rhat were supposed to exterminate the human race?
Immigrants from South America, killer bees are descendents of 26 queen bees from Tanzania. The original queens were imported from Africa in 1956. The queens bred with honeybees and with other honeybees from southern Africa by--yes, a scientist (whether he’s mad is up to you to determine)--biologist Warwick E. Kerr. From their hive in San Paulo State (southeast Brazil), near Rio Claro, the killer bees were migrating north, mating with local drones.
They look like ordinary bees, but they are more aggressive than their European peers, the Africanized honeybees, which are more commonly known as killer bees, swarm more readily, relocate as a colony when food becomes scarce, requires more territorial space, and attacks in greater numbers when threatened. In a word, killer bees tend to be much more hostile than their European counterparts. They will chase a person up to a quarter of a mile. To date, killer bees have killed 1,000 people.
It takes a lot of beestings to kill a person. The record number survived (so far) is 2,000. Ouch!
Since leaving Brazil, the killer bees have migrated into southern Argentina, South, and Central America. They also immigrated to the United States, having been detected in southern Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Arizona, southern Nevada, and the extreme southeastern corner of California. They are also in parts of Florida and are said to be extending into southern Louisiana and Arkansas as well. Scientists predict that the bees will eventually spread as far north as San Francisco and the Chesapeake Bay before cold climate conditions stop their advance.
Experts point out that some Africanized bees are gentle, which gives them hope that, by breeding the gentler with the more aggressive killer bees, the hostile bees can be domesticated.
Killer bees have appeared (as the bad guys) in Arthur Herzog’s novel The Swarm (the basis of an Irwin Allen film) and such made-for-TV movies as The Savage Bees and Out of the Sky.
According to IMDb, The Swarm features “a huge swarm of deadly African bees [that] spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people” and, in, in The Savage Bees, the annual Mardi Gras celebration is brought to a halt when a swarm of African killer bees escape from a foreign freighter. Neither movie did well at the box office.
In a third bee-theme “B” movie, The Bees, “corporate smuggling of South American killer bees into the United States results in huge swarms terrorizing the northern hemisphere,” IMDb points out. It didn’t cause much of a swarm at the box office, either, alas.
“Everyday Horrors: Killer Bees” is one in a series of “everyday horrors” that will be featured in Chillers and Thrillers: The Fiction of Fear. These “everyday horrors” continue, in many cases, to appear in horror fiction, literary, cinematographic, and otherwise.