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 

By IAN RANDALL FOR MAILONLINE

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.

MAILONLINE

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