While we are still considerably far from saying the country has officially been invaded by murder hornets, there is a growing concern after the fourth murder hornet was spotted in Washington state. The latest sighting was in northwest Washington but the hornet did not make it out safely. A Bellingham resident ended the hornet’s life before it could do any more damage to local honey bees.
The hornets appear to be very strong flyers, as this sighting took place about 20 miles from the December sighting of two hornets and about 15 miles from the sighting in May, where a single hornet was spotted. This is, of course, assuming, these hornets were all from the same community. If not, it could signal the early stages of an even bigger problem for honey bees in Washington state.
What we know about the hornets that have been spotted so far is that they originated in both Japan and South Korea, which has experts believing these were separate introductions. Considering the hornets were from both the United States and Canada, this would make sense. It also begins to somewhat dismiss the idea that the hornets that were first found here in the states were part of the hornets that had been spotted in Canada.
The Agriculture Department has stated that it has thus far received 1,970 reports from people who believe they have seen an Asian Giant Hornet. However, 758 of those reports have already been dismissed, with another 1,000 not having enough evidence to support the claim.
The report further stated that trapping for hornets will begin in July when they are most active. This should give us a far better idea of just how many hornets are here in the United States and if they are going to be a real threat to our honey bee population.
As we have stated before, it only takes a couple of these massive hornets to decimate an entire hive and they can do so very quickly. Generally, the hornets wait outside a hive for the honey bees to return and pick them off one at a time, ripping off their heads and disposing of the body. When the hive is weakened, the hornets then enter the hive to feast. Honey bees do have a natural defense against the hornet, though. As it turns out, honey bees have a higher tolerance for heat, so if they can lure the hornet into the hive when still at full capacity, the bees can engulf the hornet and vibrate, raising the heat level to literally cook the hornet to death.
Source: Register Guard