Killer bee

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The killer bee, a, is an insectoid monster that appears in NetHack.

All killer bees are female, oviparous and inediate. Their corpses are poisonous to eat, but have a 30% chance of granting poison resistance.


Killer bees are most likely to be generated in large groups, and will often appear once you have progressed past the first few floors of the dungeon.

Kicking a tree may summon one or more killer bees, and they are among the monsters that can be generated via the summon insects monster spell most often cast by aligned priests. Beehive special rooms 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 can also 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.[1]

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, they are quite fast at 18 speed and their sting is poisoned, which can drain strength and even instantly kill you if you are not 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.

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 a suitable wand or escape item. Elbereth can also offer some breathing room if you find it difficult to avoid them. If you plan to actually fight back, drawing them 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 monster magic resistance, and even a wand of striking or magic missile will suffice if they hit.

An effective alternative to the above, especially for pacifists, is to lead the bees to a falling rock trap, which will dispose of them quickly. 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.


Killer bees appear in groups, making them a popular choice for obtaining intrinsic poison resistance with either an extrinsic source to prevent strength loss and significantly reduce damage from the poison. You can also nullify the strength penalty through the use of a ring of sustain ability, or reverse it with a unicorn horn; you may also want a tinning kit, which removes the poison and slightly increases the nutrition provided per corpse.


Killer bees have been present in the game since hack121, a variant of Jay Fenlason's Hack. Beehives were added in NetHack 3.0.0.


The "killer bee" is an Africanized a hybrid of the western honey bee, produced originally by crossbreeding of 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; as a result, they are easily provoked and react to disturbances faster, chasing targets for up to a quarter of a mile.

Their 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 "killer bees" highly feared by people, a reaction amplified by media reports and movies such as The Swarm. The "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 their higher reported stings 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 SlashTHEM, the Gnome King's Apiary is a variant of Mines' End that contains a beehive with a queen bee and several killer bees.


In EvilHack, one to four honey badgers may spawn on any level with a beehive and will dig for it as fast as possible - this has the added peril of likely waking the hive before you are prepared to deal with either them or the badgers.

Encyclopedia entry

See the encyclopedia entry for bee.