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Farmer’s death puts national focus on killer bees


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  • With the recent deaths of a farmer in Texas and a mountain climber in Arizona, the spread and range of killer bees is gaining national attention.

And in Arizona, where 100 percent of wild honey bees are Africanized, Reed Booth, popularly known as the “Killer Bee Guy,” has a booming extermination business. “They were first introduced to Arizona in 1993, and they started breeding quick with the European bees. I started getting calls from ranchers like, ‘We’ve had bees on our property for 60 years, we like bees, they never bothered anybody. But now they’re stinging the horses and everything else,’” Booth told Modern Farmer. “I’ve had some real angry bees; one time they chased my truck for two miles.”

Along with the Larry Goodwin incident in Texas, another recent case catapulted killer bees into the national media spotlight; this one occurring in Arizona. Steven Johnson, 55 years old, was killed while climbing a mountain near Tucson. When he didn’t return from a weekend climb, friends went looking for Johnson — and found him hanging 70 feet off the ground and in full climbing gear; stung to death by a hive of killer bees. Investigators speculated Johnson may have disturbed the hive while hammering a climbing spike into the rock — his climbing rope was hanging within a few feet of a hive. “He had anchored himself to the wall as he was going down so he was actually anchored and he must have been attacked and was not able to climb back up or go back down,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Raoul Rodriguez, according to the Daily Mail.

Africanized honey bees are continuing to colonize and move north across the U.S. Killer bees — a lab experiment gone wrong.


Twitter: @CBennett71


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