In the insects world, the Japanese Giant Hornet (Vespa
Using its scissor-like teeth that can wreak havoc on its prey, a single Japanese giant hornet can kill up to 40 European honeybees a minute. So, a few of them can decimate an entire colony containing 30,000 European honey bees. Compared to honeybees, it is really a giant: adults can be more than 4.5
But, the Japanese honey bees have developed an amazing defense against these giants during their evolutionary process.
Japanese giant hornet vs European honeybees
Once a Japanese giant hornet has located a hive of European honeybees it leaves pheromone markers around it that quickly attract nest-mates to converge on the hive. And the massacre begins.
European honeybees are generally more productive than the endemic Japanese honeybees. Because of that, In Japan, beekeepers often prefer European honeybees. But it is quite difficult to maintain a captive hive of European honeybees, as mentioned above.
European honeybees are completely defenseless against the Japanese Giant Hornet attacks. Watch what happens if a group of hornets attacks a European honeybee hive:
Japanese giant hornet vs Japanese honeybees – a different story
However, the Japanese honeybee (Apis
At a given point, the bees emerge from their hiding places in an angry cloud formation containing some 500 individuals. They form a tight ball around the hornet that acts like a convection oven when the bees vibrate their wings to direct air over their bodies, warmed by their muscular exertion, into the inside of the ball.
The interior temperature of the ball rises to 47 °C (117 °F). The giant hornet can survive maximum temperatures of 44-46 °C (111-115 °F), but the bees can survive up to 48-50 °C (118-122 °F), so the hornet is killed and the bees survive. It was found that the hornet can survive temperatures of up to 47°C, and temperature alone is not sufficient in killing the giant hornet via bee ball.
The combined carbon dioxide concentrations increasing inside the bee ball coupled with the temperature increase causes the giant hornet to expire. The ability to withstand heat for the hornet rapidly decreases as carbon dioxide concentrations increase.
The amazing three-minute video below shows how the Japanese honeybees can kill a Japanese Giant Hornet forming a ball.
- Japanese Giant Hornet on Wikipedia