Certainly Western Honeybees are easy pray for these formidable foes. Unlike their western cousins, eastern Honeybees developed whole strategy when it comes to these invaders. Best example is Apis cerana Japonica, or Japanese Honeybee. Ayumi Fujiwara, student of Tokyo University, together with other students researched behavior of Japanese Honeybees in case of attack from Japanese Giant hornets.
Asian honeybees (Apis cerana japonica)
Japanese honeybees developed full defense system against Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia), as well as against Japanese Giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia japonica). Just before arrival of a scout, Japanese honeybees will smear the entrance with the plant material of unpleasant smell. Besides unpleasant smell, it will prevent hornet to smear pheromone on the hive to mark it for the attack. Killing the scout inside the hive is crucial.
Asian Honeybee (Apis cerana) can survive body temperature up to 50 degrees celsius, while Japanese Giant hornet dies at 46 degrees. If a single scout enters their hive they will jump on it, covering it fully forming the ball around it. All of them will buzz on it to raise it’s temperature. At 46 degrees celsius, together with increased carbon dioxide which honeybees release inside formed ball around it, it dies. Honeybees can survive few degrees higher temperature, so they survive. Western honeybee also has over-heating self defense method, but it is far less effective.
Killing hornet during it’s scouting of hive is crucial! If it returns back to it’s colony, hornets will launch full scale invasion on the honeybee colony. In this case Japanese honeybees make emergency dance to alert all of members to get ready for the fight. Dance which informs of invasion from Japanese Giant hornets is different from other dances which signal need for defense. In this case 500 guardian honeybees will be alerted for defense, instead of regular 300. On top of all of that, Apis cerana uses wing shimmering to distract invaders, which is another technique unknown to Apis mellifera (Western Honeybee).
Western Campaign of Asian Hornets
Invasion of west by hornets from Asia in general, did not happen naturally, rather it was human error. Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), which is native to east Asia didn’t arrive to Europe by it’s migration. It is not as dangerous as Japanese Giant hornet it is still dreadful pest!
It was human mistake that imported it. Back in 2004 Asian Giant hornets were imported to southwest France in ceramic pots containing bonsai trees. After arriving to France, A. G. hornets spread through it rapidly. Until 2013 Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and Italy witnessed it’s arrival as well. Few years later, in 2016 Asian G. hornet arrived to UK. Seriousness of this invasion is becoming critical. Jersey alone had increase which is almost 20x more in just 1 year. Last year this time 4 A. G. hornet nests were reported, while this year, number of their nests grew to 80! On the other hand 13 nests which had Queen in them were destroyed.
In Europe and North America, situation is different. Drastically different, as Western Honeybees do not have these self-defense methods against this dangerous invader. North America was safe, until 2019th. This year reports of A. Giant hornet sighting are slowly emerging, but so far they seem to be false. Number of these false reports is increasing which is showing that people are aware of it’s danger. So far only known way to stop this pest is by animal control. I advise to not destroy their nests on your own, as their venom is much more dangerous and it is more lethal than that of European hornets.
There are possible ways to trap them which function on their tendency to group up together. One of such trap shows that board covered in glue can quickly get rid of them. But you still require to trap the first somehow on your own. I still trust trap which I personally use, but I didn’t have any issue with this nightmare!
Asian Giant hornets, with their sub-specie Japanese Giant Hornet are DANGEROUS. They are also known as killer hornets due to their lethal poison. Do not try to fight against them!