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Hornets, gentle giants
June 8, 2006 12:00 AM   Subscribe

The Asian Giant Hornet is cool, unless it's baked. Japanese honeybees can detect the hornet's secretion and they attack en masse. With approximately 500 honeybees surrounding the hornet in a tight ball, the temperature within the cluster rises to 47 degrees Celsius which bakes the hornet alive.
posted by tellurian (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Smokin'! Another definition for b-ball.
posted by rob511 at 12:12 AM on June 8, 2006


Sweet Zeus's testacles those things are monstrous!
posted by mullingitover at 12:16 AM on June 8, 2006


other hornets, "bzzzzzzzzz."

Asian giant hornets, "BZZZZZZZZZZ."

damn.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:17 AM on June 8, 2006


WOW, that is so cool. Thanks, Tellurian.
posted by dhruva at 12:25 AM on June 8, 2006


The difference is that the European honey bees that they mention attack singularally, so they just wander up and get their head ripped off.

The Japanese honey bees attack en mass, so a few will still die, but they attack in large enough numbers that it doesn't matter. Combine that with this baking concept and you have a perfect defence mechanism.

What it doesn't say in the article is how they raise the temperature. The number of bees by themselves isn't enough to trigger that temperature rise by itself - so the attacking bees start vibrating at high speed, pushing their own temperature through the roof.

I'd have to assume that this also kills some of the bees in the centre of the ball...
posted by twine42 at 12:25 AM on June 8, 2006


I'd have to assume that this also kills some of the bees in the centre of the ball...

Unless the bees can handle the increase in temperature.
posted by Juggermatt at 12:41 AM on June 8, 2006


Yikes! Those are huge hornets! Incredible those busy bees cooking up a scheme like that. YAYY bees!
posted by nickyskye at 12:42 AM on June 8, 2006


I was driving down the street in Japan and one of those bad boys appeared on the driver's side window next to my face. I just about drove off the road it was so huge.
posted by ktoad at 12:50 AM on June 8, 2006


Yikes! Those are huge hornets!

I know. Look, this one is as big as an entire human butt.

Those bees are probably just pissed about all those asymmetrical hornet on bee slaughter-fests, that make Francisco Pizarro's conquest of the Incans look like WWII.
posted by dgaicun at 12:58 AM on June 8, 2006


I'd have to assume that this also kills some of the bees in the centre of the ball...

Unless the bees can handle the increase in temperature.


From the linked page:

"With approximately 500 honeybees surrounding the hornet in a tight ball, the temperature within the cluster rises to 47º C (117º F), which is above the upper lethal limit range of 44-46 degrees for the hornet. This temperature is too high for the hornet, which quickly expires, but does not harm the honeybees.This temperature does not aversely affect the honeybees because their upper lethal limit is slightly higher, 48-50 degrees."
posted by painquale at 1:00 AM on June 8, 2006


The first time I saw these guys flying around my house I though they were hummingbirds, until being informed that there are no hummingbirds in Japan.

I have learned to flee these hornets, and can now do so with style and grace.
posted by Absit Invidia at 1:25 AM on June 8, 2006


Video clip of bees BBQing a hornet. Includes infra-red video that shows the temperature gradient inside of the ball (beware: WMV and Real Player only). I guess all these clips come from this National Geographic documentary.
posted by elgilito at 1:41 AM on June 8, 2006


I'm pretty sure they are the only bees than have devised a way to kill a hornet actually.

Most hornet's can destroy an entire colony of bees in a few hours, and it's apparently it's such a huge problem in the rainforests that they have the potential of drastically affecting the environment on a global scale.
posted by Guerilla at 2:25 AM on June 8, 2006


I first heard of the Japanese honeybee's novel defense in Schneier's "Security Notes From All Over", which was drawn from this AWESOME book: The Thermal Warriors
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:06 AM on June 8, 2006


I can't think of a part about this post that isn't cool: 1/4 inch stingers? check. Huge size? check. Baking predators alive? Check. 30k honeybees dead in three hours!?!?!!! CHECK!
posted by OmieWise at 5:25 AM on June 8, 2006


Aren't these prevalent in the United States now? I swear I've seen them around my parents' house in Virginia. A neighbor's grandson got stung on the arm and it swelled to the size of a baseball. Myself, I found their hive and discretely picked them off with an air rifle as they landed.
posted by Atreides at 5:30 AM on June 8, 2006


Ah, I fall for the common mistake. Silly ol' Vespa Crabo!

USA: Giant Hornet, European Hornet, Old World Hornet. Vespa crabro is there also commonly called the "Brown Hornet", and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Japanese Hornet". This is the largest and, technically, the only true hornet found in the United States. It is not the same wasp as the "Bald-Faced-Hornet" or the "Yellow Hornet".
posted by Atreides at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2006


Large Hornet on hand video (not Japanese)
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2006


Fascinating, magnificient, scary hornet !

Also : you gotta love your engrish daily dose : his temperature is too high for the hornet, which quickly expires

Hornet expire ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:13 AM on June 8, 2006


Hornet, wasp?

What is the difference?

The link isn't that interesting. Basically a hornet is a kind of wasp, so all hornets are wasps but not all wasps are hornets.
posted by tracy_the_astonishing at 6:16 AM on June 8, 2006


Hornet, wasp?

What is the difference?

The link isn't that interesting. Basically a hornet is a kind of wasp, so all hornets are wasps but not all wasps are hornets.
posted by tracy_the_astonishing at 6:16 AM on June 8, 2006


tracy_the_astonishing writes "The link isn't that interesting."

Your username would suggest otherwise.
posted by OmieWise at 6:24 AM on June 8, 2006


MetaMonkey: Large Hornet on hand video (not Japanese)

Awww, he's almost cuuuuute! Ya almost want to give him a back rub and antenna skritches, and feed him little HornetChow treat bits ("Who's a good bug? Who? Who's the bestest waspie ever?")

Almost.
posted by hangashore at 7:09 AM on June 8, 2006


A+++++ would read link again. Thanks, tellurian.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:13 AM on June 8, 2006


i saw the natl geographic video elgilito mentions above. it was freaking terrifying. the video of the hornets killing the honeybees is totally incredible
posted by 1-2punch at 7:30 AM on June 8, 2006


the video

they also killed a guy by stinging him on the face twenty-odd times. it disolved his skin. . .
posted by 1-2punch at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is utterly horrifying. Thank you for brining it to my attention.
posted by dame at 8:06 AM on June 8, 2006


Wow. You can't even outrun them very easily, because of their crazy spit (called VAAM) that makes them fly fast: "When pursuing prey, they can travel a range of 60 miles (96 kilometers) at speeds reaching 25 miles per hour." (via: Nat'l Geographic)

And further: "The incredible effects of VAAM have not gone unnoticed in Japan: The country's latest sports drink is based on this "hornet power." It contains a synthetic form of components in the hornet larval saliva, which is touted as performance-boosting. Japanese gold medalist and world-record marathon runner Naoko Takahashi declared that VAAM gave her an edge in the Olympic Games held in Sydney, Australia."
posted by coffeespoons at 8:17 AM on June 8, 2006


Oops, the original link has an NYTimes article at the bottom that goes into more detail on the energy drink.
posted by coffeespoons at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2006


And people are casually allowing these hornets to walk around on their hands?
posted by zonkout at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2006


So this is why the scooter is called a Vespa; I've wondered for years.
posted by jamjam at 12:01 PM on June 8, 2006


Upon seeing anything even remotely similar to these vile insectian devils, I would promptly stomp it to shit and then have a piss shiver.

Pure fucking evil.
posted by LushMojo at 12:04 PM on June 8, 2006


Thanks, tellurian. I just finished Holley Bishop's entertaining book Robbing the Bees last night, so this is quite timely.
posted by shoepal at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2006


From what I've read, Honeybees keep a very tidy house and won't tolerate dead things lying about. They don't show it, but I imagine after the hornet is killed it is most likely entombed in wax and honey.
posted by shoepal at 12:32 PM on June 8, 2006


I know. Look, this one is as big as an entire human butt.

lmdao.
posted by Radio7 at 11:35 AM on June 9, 2006


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