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Warwick E. Kerr
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    (September 9, 1922-September 15, 2018)
    Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil
    Agricultural engineer and entomologist
    Cross-bred European and African strains of honeybees
    26 queen bees were accidentally released into the wild (1957)
    Began spreading at a rate of approximately a mile a day
    First 'killer bee' fatality in the US occurred in 1993
    Africanized bees are more likely than European bees to perceive nearby creatures as a threat, swarm in larger numbers, and will chase after their targets for a greater distance.
    Africanized bees look so much like their European cousins that the only ways to tell them apart are to measure the wings, do a DNA test, or wait and see if several hundred of them chase you for half a mile.
    There is conflicting advice over whether you should respond to a killer bee attack by running in a straight line or by zig-zagging.
    Proposals to stop the bees at the Isthmus of Panama were discussed but never implemented.
    An estimated 1,000 people have been killed by Africanized bees over the years.
    Late 70s 'killer bee' paranoia allowed Irwin Allen to unleash 'The Swarm,' perhaps the goofiest disaster movie ever.
    It was a visiting beekeeper rather than Kerr himself who allowed the Africanized queens to escape.
    He was twice arrested for protesting against the military dictatorship ruling Brazil (1964,1969).
    Some of the hype about killer bees was fostered by the Brazilian government as part of a campaign to discredit Kerr.
    The venom of the Africanized bee is not any stronger than that of the European honeybee.
    In Brazil, the Africanized bees have been 're-domesticated' into a less aggressive stock and emerged as the preferred choice of beekeepers.
    Thanks to his research, Brazil went from #47 to #7 in the world in honey production.

Credit: C. Fishel

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