‘Killer’ Bee Colony Found in South Carolina

     (CN) – A colony of Africanized honey bees, so-called “killer” bees, has been found near Charleston, S.C., the first time such a hive has been found in the state in 15 years.
     Officials with Clemson University said the bees were discovered in a managed hive during a routine inspection and were destroyed shortly afterward although not before a beekeeper was stung half a dozen times by one of the insects.
     The officials said while they believe the colonization by the Africanized bees was an isolated incident, they’re nevertheless conducting a survey in a two-mile area surrounding the site to see if any more of the aggressive bees are around.
     An investigation is also underway to determine where the bees came from.
     Africanized bees were introduced in Brazil in the 1950s in an attempt to breed a honey bee better suited to life in the tropic zone of South America. However, some of the Africanized bees escaped quarantine in 1957, and began breeding with Brazilian honey bees in the wild.
     The bees, which are ferociously tempered, are also incredibly prolific. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, they were known to have expanded their range by some 200 miles per year. They were first detected in the United States in 1985. Since then their populations have largely been confined to the Southwest and southern Florida.
     But random sitings do occur and always cause some alarm among the general public because of the bees’ nasty reputation.
     Africanized bees are easily disturbed, and once angered, attack in far greater numbers and over greater distances than their more tranquil native counterparts. And once stirred, a colony can remained agitated for as long as 24 hours, attacking anything that comes within a quarter mile of the hive.
     The last time the bees were found in South Carolina was in 2001 when a colony was found on the wing on an airplane in the upstate. Those bees were destroyed, and until the latest discovery, the state had been considered free of them.

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