Skip to main content

Africanized bees blamed in death of Georgia man

By the CNN Wire Staff
Africanized honey bees surround a European queen honey bee, marked with a pink dot.
Africanized honey bees surround a European queen honey bee, marked with a pink dot.
  • "Killer" Africanized honey bees are confirmed in Georgia
  • Man, 73, was stung while he was clearing brush
  • Africanized bees are very protective of nests
  • Insects
  • Georgia

(CNN) -- Africanized honey bees have been confirmed in Georgia and are responsible for the death of a 73-year-old man, the state's agricultural commissioner said Thursday.

Curtis Davis of Dougherty County in southwest Georgia last week accidentally disturbed a colony of bees while he was clearing bush with his bulldozer, CNN affiliate WFXL reported. He received more than 100 stings.

"This is the first record of Africanized honeybees in Georgia," Agricultural Commissioner Tommy Irvin said in a statement about the entomological tests.

Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees," were believed to have entered Texas in 1990 and have since spread to about 10 other states from California to Florida.

Because of the similarity of the appearance of European honeybees and Africanized bees, the insects from the Dougherty County incident had to be tested to ascertain their identity. Irvin said they are less predictable than European honey bees.

Africanized honey bees, which are hybrids of African and European bees, can be highly defensive around their nests and swarm more frequently than other honey bees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The venom carried by honey bees has similar potency.

Irvin, who urged people to be cautious around nests, said employees will monitor and trap "bee swarms to try to find where any Africanized honey bees are."

He stressed that European honey bees are important for the pollination of many crops.