Tuesday Afternoon Diversion: 30 Japanese Hornets vs. 30,000 Honey Bees
By Kevin Robinson in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 18, 2013 8:00PM
European honey bees are preferred by Japanese beekeepers as they're more productive than the native bees. Unfortunately for both the bees and the beekeepers, Japanese Giant Hornets also prefer European bees — for eating!
Once a Japanese giant hornet has located a hive of European honey bees it leaves pheromone markers around it that quickly attract nest-mates to converge on the hive. A single hornet can kill forty European honey bees in a minute; a group of 30 hornets can destroy an entire hive containing 30,000 bees in a little more than three hours. The hornets kill and dismember the bees, returning to their nest with the bee thoraxes, which they feed to their larvae, leaving heads and limbs behind. The hornets also eat the bees' honey.
Unlike their European counterparts, Japanese honeybees have a natural defense mechanism against the giant hornet predator: they form a massive cloud of bees around the scout hornet, forming a tight ball around the hornet and using the combined flapping of their wings to direct a deadly stream of heat at the predator. Much like a convection oven, the Japanese bees bake the scout hornet to death.