'Killer' bees swarm in South Florida

April 24, 2006

So-called killer bees have attacked a farm worker, killed a goat and a sheep and injured several other animals in an April 14 attack in South Florida.

Officials say the incident near Fort Lauderdale almost certainly involved aggressive Africanized honeybees that have been in Florida since 2002, but which began to spread more quickly last summer, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Monday.

Closely resembling European honeybees, the Africanized bees swarm more often and fiercely defends the hive, perceiving any disturbance as a threat. Officials have advised people who encounter the "killer" bees to RUN -- with upper case letters and exclamation points -- to a safe area, the newspaper said.

John Capinera, chairman of the University of Florida's entomology department, said people should assume they are dealing with an Africanized bee if the insect is acting aggressively.

Jerry Hayes, chief of the aviary section for Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Plant Industry, told the Sun-Sentinel: "They've dominated South America and Mexico. There's no reason that they won't do the same thing in Florida and the Southeast."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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