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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
1996

Source:
http://books.google.com/books?id=3x...ankenstein doctor&pg=PA12#v=onepage&q&f=false

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
1992

Source:
http://books.google.com/books?id=KcqQ1rPZyRoC&pg=PA154

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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