- 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.