August 21, 2006

Arizona man stung to death by “killer” bees

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A swarm of "killer" bees attacked a man
and his father as they repaired a roof in a small town in
southeast Arizona, killing one man and hospitalizing the other,
police said on Monday.

Cochise County Sheriff's Department said the Africanized
honey bees stung Charlie Pasley, 39, more than 300 times as he
carried out repairs to a home in Huachuca City, 160 miles (250
km) southeast of Phoenix on Sunday. He died at the scene.

Spokeswoman Carol Capas said the swarm also attacked
Pasley's father, Chuck, 62, who was reported to be in a stable
condition in hospital late on Sunday.

The insects, commonly known as "killer" bees for their
highly aggressive behavior, are descended from a ferocious
strain that was first introduced to the Americas from Africa in
the 1950s in the hope that they would produce more honey.

The bees absconded from research hives in Brazil, slowly
spreading through South and Central America. They first crossed
into Texas from Mexico in 1990, since when they have attacked
and killed dozens of people.

Researchers say the bees developed their highly defensive
behavior and furious work rate to deal with voracious predators
and short growing seasons in drought-prone areas of Africa.