Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)

Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata

image of Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata image of Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata
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Species description or overview Taxonomy & nomenclature Management plans

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The Africanized honey bee (Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata), also known as the "killer bee" on the mainland U.S., looks just like the domestic honey bee.  Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata is primarily a public safety threat in Hawaii where our year-round mild climate is sure to favor the development of many hives throughout our lowlands where our residential communities and tourist areas are found. If it were to become established, it could seriously impact Hawaii's communities, businesses, and tourism. This bee could also impact commercial beekeepers, resulting in reduced yields to melon and other crops that rely on pollination. It could also impact honey and queen bee production in the State by infiltrating domestic honey bee colonies. Unlike the domesticated European honey bee, the Africanized honey bee is a "wild" bee that is not comfortable around people or animals, and will readily defend its hive at greater distances from the disturbance, become more upset with less reason, and sting in much greater numbers. Some individuals have been stung hundreds of times in only a few moments. In isolated instances, people and animals have been stung to death, primarily by not being able to get away from the bees quickly enough.  Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata is not known to be present in Hawaii (as of late 2008).  Originally from Africa, the Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata was introduced into Brazil in 1956. It escaped the following year and has been migrating north since then. In 1990, the AHB entered Texas and today it is well established in the southern portions of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.  Apis mellifera subsp. scutellata is native to Africa. 

Species description or overview

Africanized honeybee species profile (USDA)
Extensive links to information about Africanized honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata), and a video, are provided by the National Invasive Species Information Center (USDA).

Apis mellifera scutellata information
Apis mellifera scutellata ecology, habitat, dispersal, and management are from The Global Invasive Species Database.

Taxonomy & nomenclature

Apis mellifera information from ITIS
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System ITIS provides authoritative taxonomic information on Apis mellifera, as well as other plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

Management plans

Management plans for invasive animals by species (USDA)
Management plans for invasive animals are provided by the National Invasive Species Information Center.

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The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project was historically funded by the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) through PIERC (USGS) with support from HCSU (UH Hilo). More details are available online. Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)

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