[Taxacom] Asian honeybees 'defend hives from hornets with faeces'

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Dec 9 23:50:25 CST 2020


Ok, apologies in advance as it's not taxonomy, but I thought the following
item might be of general interest to at least some.

Researchers have found that honeybees in Vietnam collect and smear animal
faeces around their nests to prevent deadly raids by giant hornets.

They say the finding is the first to document the use of "tools" by
honeybees.
The bees used chicken poo, buffalo dung and even human urine to defend
their hives.
The scientists behind the study, published in the journal PLOSE ONE on
Wednesday, said the research was sparked when a Vietnamese beekeeper told
them that the mysterious dark spots they had spotted at hive entrances was
excrement.
"We thought that'd be crazy because bees don't collect dung," lead author
Heather Mattila told AFP news agency.
Researchers have found that honeybees in Vietnam collect and smear animal
faeces around their nests to prevent deadly raids by giant hornets.
They say the finding is the first to document the use of "tools" by
honeybees.
The bees used chicken poo, buffalo dung and even human urine to defend
their hives.

The scientists behind the study, published in the journal PLOSE ONE on
Wednesday, said the research was sparked when a Vietnamese beekeeper told
them that the mysterious dark spots they had spotted at hive entrances was
excrement.
"We thought that'd be crazy because bees don't collect dung," lead author
Heather Mattila told AFP news agency
But the study confirmed that the poo was indeed a defence being deployed by
the bees, specifically against giant hornets.
It adds to "an already impressive list of defences they have to prevent
these hornets from destroying their colonies", Dr Mattila, a biology
professor at Wellesley College in the US state of Massachusetts, said.
Bees are known for using a range of strategies to deflect attacks from
predators.
They have been observed physically shielding their colonies through
synchronised body shakes, hissing, or enveloping encroachers in a ball
until they overheat.
The scientists found that the hornets were less likely to launch mass
attacks on hives dotted with more faeces, and that they spent 94% less time
chewing at the entrance if they did land.
The use of excrement was particular to Asian honeybees, they added, saying
their counterparts in Europe and North America lacked similar defences.


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