May 09, 2020
The honey bees have found a way to defend themselves against the murder hornet.
With murder hornets now all the rage, local honey bees may want to take a lesson from their Asian counterparts on how to deal with that nasty little creature. The videos that are blowing up all over the internet show how brutal Asian giant hornets can be to honey bee populations. Now, while they are new here in the United States as well as Canada, these hornets have been in Asia for some time. As generally happens in nature, species learn to adapt to survive, and that is exactly what Japanese honey bees have done.
Taste of Their Own Medicine
If you have seen the pictures of the murder hornets in action, you know they have a massive size advantage over the typical honey bee. Generally, the preferred method of attack by the hornets is to wait outside the hive and pick off honey bees one by one as they exit or try to enter the hive. The honey bees in Japan have figured this out and adapted their own mode of attack.
Rather than provide easy targets for the Asian hornets, the honey bees stay inside the hive, sending a few brave soldiers to the entrance of the hive to lure in the hornets in. With no bees leaving or entering the hive, sooner or later the hornet loses its patience and starts to get closer and closer to the hive, eventually entering it, which is when the honey bees make their move.
The poor honey bee that is used as bait will more than likely lose its life, but the sacrifice it makes is for the greater good. As the hornet attacks that single honey bee, the rest of the hive quickly gathers around the hornet and begins to go to work. As nature would have it, the honey bees have a built-in defense against the hornets… their outer shell has a two-degree differential in heat tolerance than the Asian giant hornet.
What happens next is pretty extraordinary. Once the honey bees have the hornet engulfed in their mass, they begin to vibrate, raising the heat level to such that the hornet can no longer tolerate the heat. In essence, the honey bees are cooking the hornet until it dies. A recent video was put up on Twitter showing the honey bees in action and the brutal method they have developed of dealing with a foe that overmatches them in every way… until they get it on their turf!
To see the full video on Twitter, click here.