Africanized "Killer Bees" Spotted in Arkansas

JUNE 17, 2005 - Posted at 8:06 a.m. CDT

BRIGHT STAR, AR - Some unwanted arrivals from Texas have been spotted in the southwest Arkansas town of Bright Star.  State Plant Board officials say the presence of Africanized honey bees has been confirmed in the town in southern Howard County.

The aggresive insects are popularly known as "killer bees" because they are more likely than other varieties to respond in large numbers to animals or people who disturb their colonies.  The bees' venom is no more toxic than that of the European honeybee, but they are more dangerous because they attack in larger numbers.

The Africanized bees have been expected in Arkansas for several years, since they entered Texas from Mexico in the 1990s.  Swarms of the Africanized honey bees have been moving north since the accidental release of some bees in 1957 from a program in Brazil, where they were being bred to improve that country's domestic bees.

Plant Board inspector Ed Levi said yesterday that the presences of Africanized bees in Arkansas was confirmed when some were captured in small traps.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)