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Utah State University Extension

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African honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) are native to sub-Saharan Africa and were introduced in the Americas to improve honey production in the tropics. These African honey bees were accidentally released and began to interbreed with European honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica), the most common subspecies used for pollination and honey production in the United States (Fig. 1). As a result, the hybrid offspring are called “Africanized” because of their shared characteristics. Africanized honey bees are about the same size, shape and color as European honey bees (Fig. 2), and a genetic analysis must be used to distinguish one from the other.

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