A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 05, 2008
Killer Bee Capital of the World (Hidalgo nickname)

Africanized honey bees ("killer bees") were found outside of the city of Hidalgo, Texas on October 15, 1990. Much publicity resulted, and Hidalgo took further advantage by creating a statue called “The World’s Largest Killer Bee.” Hidalgo was soon called “the Killer Bee Capital of the World.”

Anything for tourist “buzz.”


Wikipedia: Africanized bee
Africanized honey bees (AHB), known colloquially as “killer bees”, are hybrids of the African honey bee, Apis mellifera scutellata (not A. m. adansonii; see Collet et al., 2006), with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and A. m. iberiensis.

WIkipedia: Hidalgo, Texas
Hidalgo is a city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,322 at the 2000 census. It is home to the Rio Grande Valley Dorados of the af2 arena football league, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League, and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, who play in the local Dodge Arena, also a concert venue serving the McAllen metro area.

Handbook of Texas Online
BEE INDUSTRY. Although the honeybee is not native to North America, European settlers brought bees with them into every colonial area. Most authorities agree that Spanish missionaries brought in the original Texas stock, for bees were already numerous in Texas at the beginning of Anglo-American colonization.
(...)
In the 1990s Africanized honeybees arrived from Mexico. Known as “killer bees,” the invading honeybees were the offspring of Africanized bees that had escaped from a research project in Brazil in 1956 and mated with domesticated European honeybees. Though their sting was no more potent than that of other honeybees, killer bees more vigorously and aggressively defended their colonies. The first killer bees arrived in Hidalgo County in 1990, and the community of Hidalgo subsequently came to be known as the “Killer Bee Capital of Texas.” By 1991 a total of twenty-five colonies were reported in Texas, and by 1992 killer bees had arrived in Travis County. In that year eighteen counties in South Texas were placed under quarantine to prevent further spread of the bees. By 1994 one death had been attributed to killer bees, and over 190 stinging accidents had been reported. 

City of Hidalgo
World’s Largest Killer Bee
(...)
The first of the aggressive insects—called Africanized honeybees—were found in the United States on October 15, 1990 just outside the city of Hidalgo.

After that, Hidalgo became the home of “The World’s Largest Killer Bee,” a statue built to commemorate the first colony of “killer” bees (Africanized honey bees) discovered in the city. The statue measures 20 ft long and is 10 ft high and has attracted national attention. It ha been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, American Airline Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications and national T.V. shows. Tourists come hundreds of miles each year to take their picture with the “Killer Bee.”

This Statue of the world’s largest “Killer bee” (Africanized honey bee) was unveiled in Hidalgo, Texas on December 6, 1992. The first colony of killer bees discovered in the United States were found in Hidalgo, Texas on October 15, 1990.

Roadside America
Killer Bee Capital of the World
Hidalgo, Texas
Killer Bees have been around since the 1950s, when some African queens escaped a South American lab and began flirting with the local gentry. Their volatile spawn migrated north, growing nastier with each succeeding generation. In October of 1990, they illegally crossed the US border at Hidalgo, Texas.

Most towns would view this occasion with horror, something best left unmentioned in the hope that it would be forgotten. Happily, Hidalgo was blessed with a mayor who knew that killer bees bring honey as well as a sting. John Franz gave the media the buzz: Hidalgo was “Killer Bee Capital of the World” and proud of it. Within two years Franz had wheedled 20 grand from his city’s budget to build the World’s Largest Killer Bee.

Six years have passed. Mayor Franz is still mayor and Hidalgo has been in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guinness Book of World Records, and a Snapple commercial. Hidalgo sells posters and post cards of the bee, and carts it down Main Street during their annual Border Fest celebration. None of the tourists who wander the streets seem concerned about what, exactly, this town is celebrating.

San Antonio (TX) Express-News
BEES Hidalgo buzzes over monument bid for Africanized honeybee (July 30, 1992) Associated Press San Antonio Express-News
Page 4C (315 Words)
HIDALGO While other Texas cities are busy fighting off the advancing so-called killer bees, Hidalgo is thinking of buying one about 10 feet high, 20 feet wide and made of Fiberglas.

The board of aldermen believes the huge bee, a monument commemorating the arrival of the Africanized honeybees, would entice tourists to stop in the city and also secure Hidalgo’s place in history.

Some city residents are not happy about the proposal.

“A statue of a…
(...)
“Whether we’re going to be the Killer Bee capital of the United States or ...”

Google Groups: alt. sustainable.agriculture
Newsgroups: alt.sustainable.agriculture
From: (Larry London)
Date: 12 Jun 1993 15:53:57 GMT
Local: Sat, Jun 12 1993 10:53 am
Subject: APIS - June, 1993 (Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter)

OPPORTUNITY FROM ADVERSITY

The folks in Hidalgo are capitalizing Texas style on the fact that African bees were first found in their town.  The Houston Chronicle on April 11, 1993 ran the headline: “Killer Bee Capital of the World--Too bee or not to bee?” The story continues: “It’s big.  It’s yellow and black.  It’s even anatomically correct. It’s a $18,500, fiberglass-and-steel statue of a killer bee, and it’s Hidalgo’s shot at luring tourist swarms.”

The article continues: “We need to put Hidalgo on the map, said Mayor John David Franz, an attorney.  Then, why not a killer bee? The statue was built by the FAST Corporation of Sparta, WI, which
makes landmark and theme-park animals.  FAST President Jerry Vettrus said the killer bee is a one-of-a-kind creation.  Vettrus’ compulsion for perfection drove him to ensure the big bee was an
exact replica of the real thing.  In the name of anatomical correctness, bee fans will note the big back feet face backward—as they should.”

After visiting Hidalgo in March, I can attest to the reality of this giant bee, standing taller than a person and some twenty feet in length!  It is definitely a honey bee with four wings and extremely realistic compound eyes and antennae.  However, its feet sport cloven hoofs, more in keeping with the ungulate population Texas is known for, than insects.

And what about the name?  The article concludes:  “Some thought Hidalgo’s claim as ‘killer bee’ capital would scare away the town’s winter Texans, or drivers of the 25,000 vehicles that pass through daily on their way into Mexico.  But Joe Vera III, Chamber of Commerce president, refused to buzz off.  It was ‘killer’ or nothing.  ‘Can you imagine trying to read a billboard advertising the World’s Largest Africanized honeybee?’ It may be working.  The big bee made Paul Harvey’s radio show.  Its bug-eyed presence upstaged accordionist Myron ...

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, January 05, 2008 • Permalink