It is the world’s largest hornet at approximately two inches long, this specie is native to Eastern Asia. The Suzumebachi or “sparrow bee” are a ferocious wasp which using minimal numbers can destroy an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours and plunder its bounty.
Japanese Honeybees Fight Back!
The Japanese Honeybee however has developed a defensive strategy. When the lone Asian Hornet scout approaches their hive, the Japanese Honeybees will lure the scout into the hive. Allowing it to enter, the honeybees that have gathered by the hundreds around the opening to the hive will swarm and engulf the scout, completely covering the bee and pinning it down. They prevent the Asian Wasp from escaping or signaling for help. They maintain this live blanket around the lone scout as it struggles to free itself, their collective body mass temperature rising to dangerous levels. This is their strategy. They can kill the intruder by heat.
Japanese honeybees can withstand slightly higher bodily temperatures than the Asian Hornet for short durations, but only by a matter of only a degree or two. The Asian Giant Wasp is doomed.
Swarming an Asian Sparrow Bee Wasp Scout, Death is Assured as the Collective Heat Increases
Image via Wikipedia
At around 115 degree Fahrenheit, the Giant Asian Wasp perishes from heat exhaustion. The Japanese honeybees can barely withstand temperatures just two degrees hotter. Some honeybee defenders die anyway from the battle, from being crushed in the mobbing or perhaps even by the stress of the heat that they collectively generate. The death of the lone Asian Giant Wasp has prevented its signaling for help and backup from additional members of its own kind. The location and security of the Japanese Honeybee hive remains safe for now.
Japanese Beekeepers have in recent years tried to introduce European honeybees locally for their increased productivity. This effort has failed repeatedly. The more productive and passive European honeybees lack any collective strategies against the Asian Giant Wasp and their colonies have always been ravaged and totally destroyed by the colossal native wasps.
I suppose it would be a fool’s folly to even consider using the Asian Giant Wasp as some sort of weapon against the Africanized Honeybees here in the Americas. That would be the last thing we need, -another threat to the already dwindling honeybee populations. I would vehemently oppose even the release of sterile Asian Giant Wasps for their efforts to eradicate Africanized Bee colonies. It was this kind of two dimensional thinking that introduced the Africanized bee in the first place, the so-called ‘Killer Bees.’ An effort to alter the natural world to our benefit, which in the case of Africanized bee, backfired in the worst possible way. It would be most unfortunate to have uncontrollable hives of these Godzilla-sized Killer Bees on the loose in a land whose bees are defenseless against them.