• Japanese honeybees are able to put up a defense against the deadly murder hornets
  • They form a "ball" of honeybees around the wasp and "cook" it until it dies
  • The swarm of "ball-like" Japanese honeybees  produces heat that the wasp cannot handle

The dreaded Asian giant hornets have been spotted in the Washington State area, raising alarm and concern among U.S. scientists. The Vespa Mandarinia, also referred to as ‘murder hornets,’ can grow up to two inches in length and have been known to kill at least 50 people in Japan annually.

Deadly To Honeybees

They are particularly deadly to honeybees, which they have been known to dismember and remove the thoraxes to feed their larvae. Reports say that these giant wasps can attack a beehive and kill a bee every 14 seconds.

Murder hornets’ tough exoskeleton proved to be impenetrable to the bee’s stingers. The giant wasps use this to their advantage when attacking a beehive. European honeybees, which are very common in the U.S., have been known to try their stings at the murder hornet to no avail.

American scientists worry that the existence of these wasps on American soil and its imminent spread could endanger the already declining honeybee population in the U.S. In an interview with the Times, Ruthie Danielsen, a Washington beekeeper, said that U.S. honeybees have no known defense against these giant predators.

Japanese honeybees defend themselves from murder hornets by cooking them
Japanese honeybees defend themselves from murder hornets by cooking them Pexels

The Way Of Japanese Honeybees

Japanese honeybees, on the other hand, have been reported to have developed a way to kill the deadly giant wasp. Researchers have described the interesting defense used by Japanese honeybees, also known by their scientific name Apis Cerana Japonica, against the deadly hornet. According to researchers, dozens of honeybees swarm around a murder hornet, forming what resembles a ball of constantly moving bees.

The honeybees then furiously beat their wings and vibrate to produce heat, which they direct to the core of the ball. Researchers say the bee ball’s core can reach more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit, roasting the murder hornet alive in less than an hour. According to reports, Japanese honeybees have been known to survive more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists say Japanese honeybees have co-evolved with the murder hornets, and this may be how they were able to learn the so-called ‘cooking’ defense.

Murder Hornets Can Injure People Too

Murder hornets have stingers around 6 mm long and are loaded with potent venom called madaratoxin, which scientists say is a single-chain polypeptide. While one wasp cannot deliver a lethal dose to an individual, it can become deadly if several murder hornets sting someone in one single instance, which increases the venom dose.

If a person is allergic to the wasp’s venom, however, a dose delivered by even only one wasp can increase the risk of death of such an individual. Scientists advise those who have been stung over 10 times by murder hornets should seek medical help while those who sustain more than 30 stings should seek emergency treatment. According to health experts, their stings, which feel like hot nails are being driven into the skin, can cause kidneys to fail.