I lived in the Canal Zone between 1966, and 1968. I was all of 6-9 years old, but I remember some of it. I have to say the only experience I had with getting stung was actually Yellow Jackets, once on a Boy Scout hike we came across a wild tree, but I was too terrified to actually see it. Needless, there was no AHB there at the time.
AHB are nothing more than regular bees with a neurosis. The key word here is DEFENSIVE. Think a sick dog, or cat. When the don't feel well or are fighting with another dog or cat, you might not want to get too close to them, or you might get bitten. You may see the mellifera scutella around, not even know they're there. Get too close to the hive, and it could be bad news.
The problem isn't in their heads, but actually in their noses. Bees can smell stuff Dogs can't. In fact, that's the general means of communication with their species. Sometimes the pheromone triggers a hyper sensitive reaction in the colony, but this can be true of any race of bees. The original honeybee, Apis Mellifera var. Mellifera is notorious for being a "hot" bee, in fact comparable to AHB. Mellifera are selected for tolerance with having their hives fiddled around with, look for "requeening" or "hot bees" in these forums.
You would probably be better off with the local bees. It's a saying, "All beekeeping is local." You could get some highly bred queen from GA, but they probably wouldn't do well in Panama. AHB have been around for long enough that they've been gentled. Here's a link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_honeybee#Gentle_African_bees
The sad thing about the introduction of Mellifera in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere is they're taking over. The destruction of the habitat of the local honeybees, stingless and domesticated for thousands of years, and better yields from the introduced species is pushing the practice of keeping the "Royal Lady" honeybees out.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingless_bee#Mayan_stingless_bees_of_Central_America
I don't know what your chances of getting hold of a log are.