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ASSE Alerts Public To Risk Of Deadly Bees
July 1, 2009

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), representing more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals, is alerting its members about the rapid growth of the harmful, aggressive Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) in the U.S., their negative impact on European Honey Bees (EHBs) and agriculture and on workplace safety.

First discovered in southern Texas in 1990, AHBs are now located throughout the south, southeast and southwest states, including California and are more likely to attack people and animals near their nests. The danger is that AHBs are more aggressive than EHBs and garden bees. Although the sting from an AHB is no more harmful than one from the common garden bee or EHB, they are known as the “killer bees” because they defend their nests more aggressively, attack with less provocation, and in larger numbers. They are more apt to sting quickly and multiple times.

According to reports, the Africanized (hybrid) bees were created in the mid-1950s when a researcher brought African bees to Brazil and bred them with European honeybees, with the intent to produce hybrid bees that could tolerate tropical environments. These hybrids, along with African queens, were subsequently released, accidentally, into the wild the next year. The hybrid bees freely interbred with local bees, with the Africanized genetics preferentially retained over time, eventually dominating bee populations.

In an effort to prevent injuries from the AHBs, ASSE has developed and published a safety tip sheet and a list of resources for members and the public on bee safety. For additional information, visit

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