Honey bees use animal manure to save giant “murder” horns

The largest horn in the world – the Asian giant horn (Vespa mandarinia:), popularly called “murder horn”. Loan: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Beekeepers spread animal barns at the entrance to their hives to effectively avoid giant horns.

What is the best way to avoid giant hornets if you are a beekeeper? Animal barns, according to the first study from the University of Guelph.

Researchers have found that in Vietnam, bees gather beekeeping and use dirty animal spots around the entrances to prevent deadly invasions by Asian horns.Vespa soror) whose North American cousins ​​were called “horns of murder.”

This discovery is also the first to prove the use of tools by honey bees.

An invasive North American species native to Asia, the giant horns are almost as long as golf tea; they pack about seven times as much poison as ordinary honey in one bite.

Murder horns (V. mandarinia) were found in 2019 in British Columbia աշին Washington. The arrival of the poisonous insect in North America has raised concerns for human safety, as well as for local beekeeping and ecosystems.


Professor Gard Otis, a scientist who has studied honeymoon in Vietnam for decades, says that hornbeam could eventually carry out similar beekeeping campaigns in North America.

“Giant horns are the largest deer that threaten honey bees. “They are one of their most significant predators,” said a professor of environmental sciences.

Otis conducted the study with lead author Heather Matilla, who graduated with a PhD from the University of Guelph in 2006 and is currently a professor of biology at Walesley College in Massachusetts. The other co-authors were former G grade students Hanh Phem և Olivia Knight as well as Ngoc Pam և Lien Nguyen in Vietnam.

Recently published in the magazine PLOS ONE:, the study was conducted in Vietnam, where U researchers V. soror:,

The honey bee takes the dregs in its mouth

Honey bees carry scum in their mouths. Credit: Heather Matilla

These two species are the only horns that gather in the nest during organized attacks, which can lead to the rupture of the nests. Horns invade the nests, killing bees, carrying larvae, and puppies to feed their own developing breeding.

The researchers found that honey bees developed a preventive defense by collecting animal bees and using them at the entrances to beehives.

“This study shows a remarkable feature that these bees need to protect themselves from a really terrible predator,” said Matila.

He said that unlike their Asian counterparts, honey bees in Canada do not have such protection measures. This means that North American beekeepers will have to rely on the destruction of horned nests or hope that climate or other factors will limit the spread of deer.

Referring to Apis mellifera, which is common in Canada, Mattila said: “They did not have the opportunity to develop defense. “It’s like falling into the cold of war.”

The project began after Otis asked beekeepers in Vietnam about the dark spots at the entrance to the hive for Asian beekeeping. As part of a successful Canadian government-funded beekeeping development program, he conducted fall seminars in rural areas with high poverty rates from 2007 to 2011.

During one visit, an experienced beekeeper explained that the material was buffalo manure. All the beekeepers Otis worked with tied the hives to the horns. “The collection of tricks for honey bees is not a previously reported behavior, no one has studied this phenomenon,” he said.

In 2013, the U.S. G team received $ 25,000 from the National Geographic Society for research.

Giant horns at the entrance to the hive

At the entrance to the giant horned hive, without tricks. Credit: Heather Matilla

Researchers collected water from buffalo, chickens, pigs and cows and placed it in the hills near the honey farms. By the end of the day, about 150 bees had visited the piles, collecting more fragrant manure from pigs and chickens.

The team identified individual bees to be found near the hives. Minutes later, they were filming videos of the bees using the material at the nest entrances.

Deer spent less than half the time in the nest entrances with medium-heavy manure spotting than they did in multi-point hives, chewing only one-tenth of the hive entrances to breed bees. They were also less likely to carry out mass attacks on more heavily spotted hives.

Researchers are not sure what prevents the hornets, although they suspect that insects repel the larvae. The caterpillar can disguise the odors emitted by bees.

To better understand the behavior of the hornets, the researchers extracted a chemical pheromone that the horns used to mark their target hive. When the pheromone was applied at the entrance to the bees, it prompted the honey bees to rub larvae on the hive.

Many scientists disagree on whether some animals, especially insects, use tools.

To qualify as a tool, animals must meet several criteria, including the use of an object from the environment, in this case poop. The bees clearly use the material to purposefully change the hive, Otis said. And they are molded մաս with the parts of the mouth, which, according to him, corresponds to the test of holding or manipulating a tool.

In Vietnam, beekeepers usually control hornets by guarding individuals and preventing them from intensifying their attacks.

“If you let them, a bunch of horns gather, attack the colony and take over. “Beekeepers control them every day, moving in their hives, shaking debris.”

Otis said he was initially terrified of working for giant hornets. He noted that hazmat suits worn by researchers in haz aponia for protection were impractical in the Vietnamese heat. Within days, the team learned that the hornets were not defensive when they were in the apiary, away from their nest.

“I was bitten by someone, it was the most horrible bite of my life.”

Reference. 2020 On December 9, PLOS ONE:,
DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0242668:

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