People should learn to treat bees as though they are a gift from the gods. This is not necessarily an unreasonable attitude to have toward bees, as these insects pollinate numerous crops that feed every person in the world. Of course, bees can often deal out painful stings to humans, but bees are far more valuable than they are dangerous. However, this way of thinking only applies to most bee species, as Africanized honey bees are more destructive than beneficial. In fact, Africanized honey bees, or killer bees, as they are often called, have made their way up into the US where they have killed numerous Americans.


Back in the 1950s, a large amount of killer bees escaped from a laboratory in Brazil following several scientific experiments on the species. By June of 1993, killer bees had made their way into the United States by gaining ground in Arizona. Two years later, the first woman in the state of Arizona died from a killer bee attack. The woman, Mary Williams, was eighty eight years old at the time of her death. As it turned out, her death had little to do with her advanced age, as she had sustained well over one thousand killer bee stings.


Killer bee attacks have occurred numerous times within the state of Arizona, and it seems that hikers are at a particularly high risk of attack. In 2012, a hiker’s body was found suspended from climbing ropes seventy feet off the ground in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The man, Steven Johnson, and his dog had both sustained numerous bee stings. Both Johnson and his dog were found dead as a result of these stings. One year later, in 2013, three landscapers working at a home in Yavapai County, Arizona were attacked by a swarm of killer bees. Two of the workers survived, but the third worker died while running from the aggressive swarm. On average, killer bee attacks kill around one person or more per year within Arizona.


Have you ever encountered a swarm of what you thought were killer bees?