Etymology of the term 'abelhas assassinas' (killer bees)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Western Pennsylvania

    Default Etymology of the term 'abelhas assassinas' (killer bees)

    The term 'Killer Bees' How did it originate?

    In the Portuguese language Africanized
    bees are sometimes called:
    abelhas assassinas (bees murderesses)
    -women bees who commit murders

    First use of the term is in Brazil, 1965
    military press reports of:
    ataques das abelhas assassinas
    (raids from the bees murderesses)

    Here are two references explaining the
    history behind the origin of the term
    abelhas assassinas

    Book excerpt:

    A desert bestiary: folklore, literature,
    and ecological thought from the ...
    By Gregory McNamee


    Page 12

    Apis mellifera scutellata, are a variety of honeybee
    first domesticated in the scrub desert of central South
    Africa. Although their hives are small, they are said
    to be more productive than the Italian, German, and
    other strains of European honeybees to which they are
    related. Proponents of Apis mellifera scutellata say
    the African bees set to work an hour earlier than their
    cousins, are more disease-resistant, and yield more and,
    by many accounts, better honey. For those reasons, in
    1956 the Brazilian government commissioned Warwick
    Kerr, to introduce the African bees to South America.

    Kerr lost favor in 1964, when he protested publicly
    against the then-military government's excesses, and
    he spent time in jail for exercising his conscience. The
    Brazilian government was not pleased by Kerr's protests.
    To cast doubt on his credentials as a scientist, it
    portrayed him in court as a kind of Frankenstein doctor
    bent on mayhem and the eventual destruction of his
    adopted country. In an attempt to discredit Kerr, the
    Brazilian military put out press releases calling the
    bees (in Portuguese, the language of Brazil), abelhas
    assassinas (killer bees). The first mention of the words
    "killer bees" in the U.S.A. was in the Time Magazine
    in September 24, 1965 issue that picked up one of these
    military press releases.

    The lurid newspaper stories that followed touched
    off a panic, proclaiming that Kerr had been training
    his imported Africans to be "killer bees," attacking
    humans on command. Thanks to the diligence of the
    military police, the government went on to trumpet,
    this foreign madman was stopped before he could put
    his evil drones to work. In 1969 Kerr was again arrested,
    this time for protesting an incident in which Brazilian
    soldiers raped and tortured a nun and went unpunished
    for their crime.

    Thus the myth of the killer bee was born.

    ===== end =====

    Book excerpt:

    Insect Porpourri: Adventures in Entomology
    by Jean Ruth Adams, American Registry of Professional Entomologists


    Page 154

    To return to early phases of this African introduction,
    it is important to realize that on April 1, 1964, military
    forces took over the government of Brazil. Professor
    Kerr, who had introduced the African bees was a well-
    known scientist in Brazil and had represented his country
    at many international meetings; in this regard he was
    badly needed by the government. However, Kerr was
    also critical of the military government and there was
    conflict between him and the local military commander.
    Kerr was jailed twice by the military, the first time in
    1964 when he protested that a group of local railway
    workers were being maltreated, and a second time in
    1969 for protesting the torture of a Catholic nun. In
    an effort to discredit Kerr as a scientist, the local
    military played upon the fear that many people have
    on stinging insects. Since most people do not know the
    difference between bees and wasps, any stinging incident,
    many of which were caused by wasps, was blamed on
    Professor Kerr.

    The Brazilian military called the bees, in Portuguese,
    the language of Brazil, abelhas assassinas (killer bees).
    So far as I can determine, the first mention of the words
    "killer bees" in the U.S.A. was in the Time Magazine in
    September 24, 1965 issue that picked up one of these
    military press releases. Much the same story was repeated
    in a second article in the same magazine in the April 12,
    1968 issue. Those stories prompted others to write in this
    same vein and the term, and the Brazilian association with
    "killer bees". became firmly established and continues to
    live. Several horror-type movies with titles such as The
    Savage Bees, Terror out of the Sky, The Swarm, and The
    Killer Bees have been produced by Hollywood. There
    have been a number of similar articles about these bees
    by popular writers, with no experience in beekeeping,
    seeking to capitalize on the theme. I have no doubt there
    will be more such movies and papers.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    West Jordan, UT, USA

    Default Re: Etymology of the term 'abelhas assassinas' (killer bees)

    Interesting articles. Thanks for posting.


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