Bees cook giant hornets to death

This interaction between giant Asian hornets and bees kicks off my chapter on natural selection in Why Evolution is True, for it’s truly an amazing example. The wasps themselves are multifarious examples of natural selection, and introduced European bees have problems with raiding hornets who kill off all the adults and eat the honey and bee grubs.

However, the native Asian bees have evolved a clever tactic to kill the wasp scouts who find the hives (they’ve coexisted long enough to evolve defenses). Wasps send out scouts to locate nests, who return to their own colony to alert their pals for a raid. But when the Asian bees see a scout, they lure it inside the hive and then, mobbing it, they form a ball around the wasp, vibrating their abdomens and raising the temperature inside the bee ball to 117 degrees F (46° C), a temperature lethal to wasps but not to the bees. The scout wasp is cooked to death. Without a scout to report the nest location to its own conspecifics, the hive is saved.

. . . and here’s how the wasps massacre the European bees.

13 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 2, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The first video is much better than the second.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 2, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Well – I’m glad that’s just pretend- I mean, if that was real life, it’d be terrifying – and what’s more, possibly a rare delicacy!… you know, because that chef would eat it.

  3. Posted October 2, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    The bees have another powerful weapon on their side – humans. Never underestimate the humans.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 2, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Wasps send out scouts to locate nests, who return to their own colony to alert their pals for a raid. But when the Asian bees see a scout, they lure it inside the hive and then, mob[] it …

    Older guys from my neighborhood made it back from ‘Nam always said one of the most dangerous missions a GI could get sent on was a “lurp.”

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 2, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      We use to sent out scouts to Norwich or London, wait a minute, that was different.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 2, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Reckon a GI could get in a whole nother kinda trouble on a mission like that. 🙂

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted October 2, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          Not GI, Airmen. Yes, good trouble.

  5. sugould
    Posted October 2, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    In the last photo of the article, hornets face reminds me of “the Zanti Misfits” episode from The Outer Limits.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted October 2, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    This evolutionary story actually made me tear up. Not for sadness, but for the power of them bees and the delight of evolution.

  7. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Some nice infrared images:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbMLzSMJ12U

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted October 3, 2020 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      Very cool. Thanks.

  8. stuartcoyle
    Posted October 3, 2020 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Bees do the same thing to a queen bee that they want to get rid of. Yes, revolution is not just a human thing.

  9. Posted October 14, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful video and info. Thanks for sharing it.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: