Killer bee

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The killer bee, a, is a type of monster that appears in NetHack. Killer bees are female, oviparous and inediate insects that are capable of flight.

A killer bee has a single poisonous sting attack, and possesses poison resistance.

A killer bee corpse is poisonous to eat, but eating a killer bee corpse or tin has a 310 chance of granting poison resistance.


Randomly generated killer bees are always created hostile, and are often generated in large groups.

Kicking a tree may summon one or more killer bees around it, which can only happen once per tree.

Hostile killer bees can be generated by the summon insects monster spell, most often cast by aligned priests.[1] Killer bees can hatch from eggs, including ones laid by a player polymorphed into a queen bee - 7677 of eggs laid this way will be killer bee eggs.[2]

Beehives are special rooms that contain a horde of killer bees, a queen bee, and lumps of royal jelly - there is a guaranteed beehive within the Wizard's Tower.

Killer bees appear among the a that are part of the first quest monster class for Valkyries and make up 24175 of the monsters that are randomly generated on the Valkyrie quest.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (NetHack 3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Killer bees can now eat royal jelly to grow up into queen bees if no queen already exists on the level. Pet killer bees will actively seek out nearby royal jelly to do this. This will kill them if queen bees are genocided.

Rubbing non-cursed royal jelly on a killer bee egg will turn it into a queen bee egg; cursed royal jelly will kill the egg ('The egg quivers feebly'), while non-cursed jelly will revive it ('The egg quivers briefly'), and blessed jelly will make the newborn creature think you are its parent, so it is guaranteed to hatch tame.


While not especially strong individually, killer bees are quite fast at 18 speed, and their sting can drain strength and even instantly kill you unless you are resistant. Despite their offensive threat, killer bees have low HP, and will often die in a couple of hits; however, they have a low natural AC, making them hard to hit in the first place. A source of extrinsic poison resistance, such as an alchemy smock or amulet versus poison, will prevent the worst of the damage from the stings; high magic cancellation from armor can offer some protection as a last resort.

Discretion is the better part of valor: if you are low-level, burdened and/or lack poison resistance, you will want to get away as quickly as possible using suitable wands or escape items. Elbereth can also offer some breathing room against killer bees if you find it difficult to avoid them. If you plan to actually fight back, drawing the bees into narrow corridors is a valuable tactic, either to handle them one at a time or else decimate them with wands or spells - killer bees have no MR score, and even magic missile wands will suffice if they hit. An effective alternative, especially for pacifists, is to lead the bees to a falling rock trap, which will dispose of them quickly.

Killer bees are a popular source of intrinsic poison resistance for characters with extrinsic poison resistance, or else with means to prevent strength loss and/or significantly reduce poison damage: You can nullify the strength penalty through the use of a ring of sustain ability, or reverse it with a unicorn horn. A tinning kit makes the corpses safe to eat and slightly increases the nutrition provided per corpse.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Poison no longer causes instadeath, but still results in significant damage to HP and attributes. Unicorn horns no longer restore lost attributes.

Killer bees will eat lumps of royal jelly to become queen bees, making it prudent to save the original queen for last when clearing out a hive if you want an easier fight and/or want their jelly for yourself.


The killer bee first appears in Hack 1.21 and Hack for PDP-11, which are based on Jay Fenlason's Hack, and is included in the initial bestiary for Hack 1.0. Beehives first appear in NetHack 3.0.0.


The "killer bee" is an Africanized hybrid of the western honey bee, produced originally by crossbreeding the East African lowland honey bee with various European honey bee subspecies, such as the Italian honey bee and the Iberian honey bee. The East African lowland honey bee was first introduced to Brazil in 1956 in an effort to increase honey production, but 26 swarms escaped quarantine in 1957; since then, the hybrid has spread throughout the Americas. Africanized honey bees are typically (but not always) much more defensive than other varieties of honey bees, and are more easily provoked and react to disturbances faster, chasing targets for up to a quarter of a mile.

"Killer bee" stings are 10 times more frequent than from European honey bees, and have killed horses and other animals, and even some humans - this has made them highly feared, a reaction amplified by media reports and movies such as The Swarm. "Killer bee" is also used as a blanket term for any type of bee demonstrating aggressive behavior, which is often dramatized as actively seeking humans to attack. Despite this, their venom is no more potent than any other variety of honey bee, and higher-reported sting incidents are entirely rooted in their more aggressive reactions compared to European honeybees. While sting cases can still become very serious, they remain relatively rare and only kill one or two people per year on average.



In dNetHack, killer bees are lawful. Several killer bees are encountered on the Lawful Quest, and can generate with armor made to fit their body shape.

A killer bee generated on the Lawful Quest has a 14 chance of generating with leather armor, and otherwise has a 13 chance of generating with a plain dress.


In EvilHack, one to four honey badgers may be created on any level that generates with a beehive. Honey badgers on the same floor as a beehive will often dig towards it, which has the added peril of likely waking the hive before you are prepared to deal with either them or the badgers.


In SlashTHEM, the Gnome King's Apiary is a variant of Mines' End that contains a beehive with a queen bee and several killer bees.

Encyclopedia entry

See the encyclopedia entry for bee.