Muck off!’: Honey bees in Asia daub hive entrances with other animals’ feces to ward off giant hornets – but western bees have no such defenses

  • Experts studying giant hornets in Vietnam spotted the bee’s defensive measures
  • Bees carry dung back to their hive in their mouthparts to protect their colony
  • This is the first example of tool use recorded by experts from any bee species 
  • It is not yet clear exactly what property of faeces dispels the attacking wasps
  • North American bees, having not learnt this trick, are less safe from hornets
  • Murder hornets — cousin to the giant hornet — could therefore be devastating 


To ward off attacks by terrifying giant hornets, honey bees in Asia speckle the entrances to their hives with the faeces of other animals, a study has found.

Researchers in Vietnam were studying the Asian hornet, Vespa soror — cousin to North America’s ‘murder hornets’ — when they noted the bee’s defensive behaviour.

The giant hornets — which can wipe out entire hives of bees — were repelled by the fecal deposits, helping to prevent them from launching deadly group nest raids.


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