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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1990 Jul;43(1):79-86.

Quantity, analysis, and lethality of European and Africanized honey bee venoms.

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  • 1University of Arizona, Tucson.


Venom from Africanized honey bees (derived mainly from Apis mellifera scutellata) was compared with venom from domestic, European bees by study of lethality, immunological cross-reactivity, venom yield, isoelectric focusing (IEF) patterns, and melittin titers. The LD50s of European and Africanized bee venom by iv injection in mice were similar. In venom neutralization experiments, Africanized bee venom was mixed with antibodies from a beekeeper exposed only to European bees and used to challenge mice. Survival times of mice given these mixtures were significantly prolonged, indicating that human serum antibodies to European bee venom neutralized the lethal effects of Africanized bee venom. Reservoirs from Africanized bees contained less venom than European bees (94 and 147 micrograms venom/bee, respectively) and Africanized bee venom had a lower melittin content. The IEF patterns of venom from individual European bees varied considerably, as did IEF patterns of individual Africanized bees. Pools of venom from 1,000 bees of each population of A. mellifera showed noticeable but less obvious electrophoretic differences. The findings suggest that multiple stinging, and not increased venom potency or delivery, is the cause of serious reactions from Africanized bee attacks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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