"Hot Bee Balls" Cook Enemy Hornets—But How Do Bees Endure the Heat?
Genetic boost may tell bees when to stop attack, study finds.
The bees' strange defensive tactic evolved because their venomous stingers are too small to pierce the thick exoskeletons of the giant hornets—insects which can grow about two inches (five centimeters) long. The quivering of muscle fibers from so many bees creates real heat that kills off the predators.
European honeybee hives, common in the U.S. and Europe, are sitting ducks against the hornets' merciless raids, scientists say.
"These hornets go and rob honeybee colonies and the [European] bees have no chance. They can't sting through them. These hornets can bring down entire colonies," said Wulfi Gronenberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the new study.