Giant hornets threaten bee colonies in the United States

Giant hornets threaten bee colonies in the United States

© Science Photo Library
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) had not previously been sighted outside of Asia. Source: Science Photo Library

The beekeeper Ted McFall couldn’t believe his eyes. In front of the beehive lay thousands of dead insects, just as many inside the hive. The animal heads were torn off. McFall had never seen anything like it.

The “New York Times” describes the case of the beekeeper from the US state of Washington in a current article. McFall’s bees have in all likelihood fallen victim to an enemy that was previously unknown in the USA: the giant Asian hornet (Vespa mandarinia), an insect with a wingspan of (in extreme cases) more than nine centimeters.

Like the local newspaper “The Bellingham Herald” reported now, residents of the northwestern state first reported some such animals to the authorities in December 2019. Individual specimens had also appeared behind the border in Canada.

This is how big the giant hornets can get Source: pa / Xinhua News A

© pa / Xinhua News A
This is how big the giant hornets can get Source: pa / Xinhua News A

In Japan, where the giant hornet is native, among other things, it is also called the “killer hornet” because its sting can be fatal in extreme cases. As a result, some people suffer an allergic shock from which they die.

The invasive species is particularly dangerous for honeybees. The much bigger ones Hornets tear off their heads and legs and feed the rest to their offspring. So they can kill a bee colony within a few hours.

In Japan, bees have developed a sophisticated mechanism to get rid of the hornets: they pounce on individual specimens with a whole swarm and flap their wings until the temperature has risen so much that the hornet perishes.

Bee colonies, which originally come from other parts of the world, Japanese experimental beekeepers have learned the hard way, but they cannot. They are not used to the giant hornets and are decimated by them.

How the animals were able to get to the American continent is not yet known. In any case, beekeepers and local residents hope that they should not settle there permanently. The authorities are now trying to trap the hornets in the hope that they will get rid of them again.


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