How to kill a Japanese hornet: cook it with bees
March 5, 2017 9:34 AM   Subscribe

European honeybees have been seen for the first time "bee-balling" Japanese yellow hornets: swarming around a hornet, forming a tight vibrating ball and then cooking it to death with their own body heat.

Until recently it was thought that only Japanese honeybees could make defensive bee-balls. Japanese yellow hornets, and their cousin the Asian hornet, are bee massacre specialists. A few dozen hornets can slaughter more than 30,000 bees in a few hours, leaving behind a mound of dismembered heads, wings and legs. When a hornet attacks, hundreds of bees respond, smothering the inch-long marauder with their own intimate version of burn-it-with-fire, roasting the hornet alive at over 114°F/45.8°C.

Asian hornets have decimated hives in Europe since spreading to France in 2004. They were spotted in the UK for the first time last year.
posted by not_the_water (32 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Resist, honeybees, resist!
posted by diane47 at 10:04 AM on March 5 [24 favorites]


Don't let anyone tell you the little people can't make a difference
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on March 5 [31 favorites]


> While not considered a threat to humans...

The hell they're not. These thumb-sized proofs of God's indifference kill 30 to 40 people a year in Japan alone with a neurotoxin so potent you don't have to be allergic to die from it if a swarm finds you.

One of these mean-ass apex predators got into my apartment when I lived in Japan. I panicked, slamming the doors behind me as I vacated the upstairs with fucking alacrity and slept on the kitchen floor. When I crept back up to listen for activity later that evening, I could hear the evil thing ricocheting of the cymbals of the drum set in my upstairs bedroom.

Fuck these things entirely.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:12 AM on March 5 [101 favorites]


This is super metal, damn
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:15 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


I remember watching some nature documentary about bee-balling, its amazing.
But if this is the first time European bees hae been discovered to do it how is it that The Guardian's artile mentions that European honeybees are less effective at bee-balling? and that is 5 months old.

Also, who taught them to do it? (yes, probably instinctive & maybe never seen before because not needed?)
posted by Fence at 10:37 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


WORLDSTAAR!
posted by rhizome at 10:40 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Also, who taught them to do it?

A report on the Bee Bee See?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:59 AM on March 5 [52 favorites]


Also, who taught them to do it? (yes, probably instinctive & maybe never seen before because not needed?)

I bet they do this already to invading queens, or queen candidates, or their own queen under some circumstances.
posted by jamjam at 11:32 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Bee-balling, but faster every time they say the word "bee"
posted by ejs at 12:16 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


thumb-sized proofs of God's indifference

Well, there's my sock puppet sorted, then.


Be good for a baby death metal band, too.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:56 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


No wonder they don't allow bees in jail.
posted by benadryl at 1:07 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


or their own queen under some circumstances

I'm sure that also involves a trip to the Beestille
posted by lmfsilva at 1:18 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]


British Rail tried to do this to me and my family on a trip to Oxford where they cancelled the train due to a heatwave and provided an unairconditioned bus full of drunken yobs instead.
posted by srboisvert at 2:35 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


Whoa! Such a low lethal temp. I've a wasp nest under the gas cap cover. Hmm. I also have an extension cord and a hair dryer.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:01 PM on March 5


Do you also have a way to restrain the wasps while you attempt this? On second thought, call me: I'll hold your beer.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:01 PM on March 5 [18 favorites]


Bee-ball get ready,
There's a hornet coming...

Sorry. I'll get my coat.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:03 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


It only looks like beer.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:15 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Sounds like an ideal Republican congressional town hall.
posted by benzenedream at 6:54 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Bee-ball get ready,
There's a hornet coming...


Or there's Patti Smith:

Bee-ball have the power
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:21 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Whose voice is that in the Nat Geo clip? SO FAMILIAR
posted by tzikeh at 7:37 PM on March 5


West Wing president guy.
posted by eggkeeper at 7:42 PM on March 5


I'm pretty sure that's Martin Sheen's voice. But he will always be Mr President to me :)
posted by eggkeeper at 7:46 PM on March 5


Well that'll teach you, Mr Eddie "covered in bees" Izzard. It's all fun and games until someone accidentally gets cooked to death.
posted by mono blanco at 8:07 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Nature is fucking awesome. Now if only Democrats could do the same thing....
posted by tzikeh at 10:41 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Wow. This is terrifying. I wonder why just the amateur beekeepers in France have trouble. And this is just what our already-fragile bee situation needs.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:40 AM on March 6


Tom Petty, surely.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:08 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


And just as I'm clicking out of the thread my brain gets the Tom Petty reference. Great, now I have to come back in and favorite it.
posted by Molesome at 4:23 AM on March 6


I loved visiting Japan. I loved visiting when the hornets were not out in force. I still do not understand why people in the most heavily infested regions are not issued flamethrowers upon reaching the age of majority.
posted by Hactar at 8:28 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


These hot bee balls – they vibrate?
posted by Kabanos at 12:04 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I have mentioned this before but on January 1, 2015, I woke up to find a Japanese hornet in the room I was sleeping in. I woke up my wife and kids to get them out of the room and then returned to open a window and coax the thing out (dealing with insects is one of the things I'm responsible for in our family's division of labour).

I was too rushed to take a picture of it but it was huge. I learned about how Japanese bees deal with these things during breakfast that morning when I was reading the Wikipedia page on Japanese hornets. It was somewhat relieving to know that I had not had a brush with death that morning, just a brush with a lot of pain.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:12 PM on March 6


Thanks, that's literally one of my worst nightmares. (One that I've lived out with a yellowjacket before, so I can already imagine how much worse it'd be with a Japanese hornet or a tarantula hawk or something.)
posted by tobascodagama at 12:22 PM on March 6


Whoa! Such a low lethal temp. I've a wasp nest under the gas cap cover. Hmm. I also have an extension cord and a hair dryer.

That's not such a low lethal temp. I mean, humans wouldn't survive long under those conditions either. Organ failure kicks in in humans around 40C. We thermoregulate by sweating and I don't think there's a lot of evaporation going on inside a bee-ball. A chart on this questionably scientific page suggests that an hour at 46F would probably kill most humans in high humidity.
posted by maryr at 2:44 PM on March 6


« Older Time for the Political Compass of the Revolution!   |   mind controls snake mind Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments