Partially Africanized bees have been found in Tennessee, according to genetic test results released there last week.
The bees typically found in North America are called European honeybees. Africanized honeybees look similar, but are more hostile to invaders. When their nests are threatened, Africanized bees will aggressively defend their territory. When they go for a sting, they tend to target the head or face. Luckily, they are no more venomous than European honeybees.
According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, a horde of partially Africanized bees attacked one Tennessee beekeeper a few months ago. A cloud of about 100,000 streamed from a hive and surrounded the man, who ran and jumped into his car. It was five minutes before the swarm gave up its pursuit. The beekeeper, who was wearing protective gear, suffered about 30 stings.
The victim alerted Tennessee authorities, who sent samples down to Florida for testing.
Results showed that the insects were not fully Africanized; genetic mixing can occur between the different types of bees, and only about 17 percent of these bees' DNA showed Africanized traits. But Tennessee officials still decided to depopulate that hive to keep the traits from spreading.
Finding the Africanized bees in Tennessee came no surprise, since the same phenomenon has also been found in neighboring states like Georgia and Mississippi.
Tennessee will continue efforts to make sure the problem stays under control, and officials are saying that residents of the state needn't worry.
Just in case, the state Department of Agriculture released these five guidelines for anyone who accidentally disturbs an Africanized honeybee colony:
2. Cover your head with your shirt or jacket while running because the bees tend to sting the face and head.
3. Never stand still or get boxed into a place outdoors where you cannot escape them.
4. Seek immediate shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle.
5. Do not attempt to rescue a victim without the proper protective gear and training. Doing so could make you the second victim.
Fortin is the IBTimes Africa Correspondent based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She joined IBT in February of 2012, and has previously worked as an editor and reporter for...