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Killer Bees Buzzing Toward California

October 23, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Africanized honey bees have migrated to within miles of the California line and could turn up in the state any time, a bee expert said.

The so-called ″killer bees″ were recently found in a trap four miles southwest of Yuma, on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. No bees were found on the California side.

But Carl DeWing, a spokesman for the state Department of Food and Agriculture, said the first hives of Africanized bees are expected to show up in the state next spring.

It could be sooner, said Eric Mussen, an apiculturist at the University of California, Davis.

″It may be they’ll be around within days, weeks, months for sure,″ Mussen said Friday.

Killer bees are expected to make their first appearance in California in the Imperial Valley or around San Diego.

Agriculture authorities are distributing educational materials - most featuring a cartoon logo of a tough-looking bee - to prepare Californians.

The best defense, they say, is to avoid the bees, whose ferocious swarming attacks are actually aggressive defenses of their hives.

Africanized bees are offspring of African bees brought to a laboratory in Brazil in an experiment to cross them with European bees to improve pollination and honey production.

The bees escaped in 1957 and have moved north at a rate of about 200 miles a year.

Although their name provokes fear, only one death in the United States has been attributed to killer bees. A Texas man was killed earlier this year when he tried to destroy a hive inside the wall of a house.

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