Hornets vs. Bees

Bees VS Hornets

I swear, nature is a horror movie sometimes.

Here, let me set the scene real quick.  You’re a bee, and at the moment you’re chilling out in your colony when all of the sudden Asian Hornets attacks.  There are 10,000 of you, and only ten of them, but if you’re European honeybees… you all just die.  Asian Hornets are pretty much the closest things bees have to demons or dragons and these kinds of things have left all sorts of death in their wake.  For an example, they showed up in France recently and left 6 people dead.

Now let’s go back to you being a bee, but this time you’re Japanese Honeybees, and this time, we’re taking an action movie route, bearing in mind those hornets can kill comparative Godzilla.  As the Protagonist though, this naturally doesn’t sit well with you and you have a queen to protect, so after rallying the others, you counterattack.  Your swords (stingers) aren’t strong enough to pierce it’s armor, so you don’t play that game.  Instead, you swarm your assailants and dogpile them with your army, all while you vibrate your wings into the center of the mass, cranking the temperature up to 113 F.  You see, while you can survive that heat, you and the others know the Hornet can’t, so you keep it confined, swarmed and baking.

That’s not all it does however, Carbon Dioxide rises through the roof in that tight ball, around 100 times higher than naturally in the atmosphere and 5 times more than in the hive.  Within five minutes, the hornet dies, but just to be on the safe side, you double that time.  You and the rest of the bees scatter and the the lifeless hornet hits the ground.

The hive is safe.

And now let’s wrap this trilogy up.  In a similar vein, Cyprian honeybees have learned to defend themselves from their local predators.  The Oriental hornet is only about an inch, but it’s still a lot bigger than you are, and when they attack they’re still one heck of a threat.  They’re cuticle is too strong for you stinger to help you, and you can’t bake these ones either, so what do you do?  Apparently you suffocate them.

Like the Japanese Honeybees, Cyprian swarm the Oriental hornets in large balls, but they press themselves against its backend, the area where the stinger’s at.  The reason for that is because that’s where its breathing apparatus is, and the way it works is the hornet’s abdomen is like one of our lungs, and they breathe by airflow getting in and out of the small holes located there.  It’s abdomen expands as it inhales, so when the bees rush it and prevent it from doing so, it can’t breathe.

Once more, the hive is safe.

But… Bees can’t evolve enough to do those sorts of things to us…

…Can they?

For a continued reading on the matter, click here and here for National Geographic’s articles in their entirety.

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