Bees Repel Wasp Predators By Shaking Their Rear-Ends In Unison
In east Asian forests giant honey bees resort to variety of strange but effective methods of protection against their wasp enemies. East Asian honey bees are relatively enormous in size. Each honey bee is around one single inch in length and they can build nests that measure a few meters across. These honey bees are also quite aggressive. East Asian honey bees will not hesitate to sting humans and they are regarded as being one of the most dangerous of all stinging insects. In a matter of mere seconds, entire colonies can mobilize attacks on birds and mammals that happen upon their habitats. Despite their fierce nature, east Asian honey bees are preyed upon by wasps. These honey bees do not attack wasps by dispatching large groups of honey bee defenders. Honey bees do not seem interested in striking wasps or harming them in any way. However, this does not mean that east Asian honey bees are defenseless against predatory wasps. Instead these honey bees simply outwit predator wasps by resorting to unconventional forms of colony protection. One of the most bizarre of all these defense methods involves synchronized bodily movements among bees within a colony. This defense strategy is mysteriously successful, and it is known as the “Mexican Moon”.
East Asian honey bees are physically large, but the hornets that often hunt them down are significantly larger. Hornets will invade hives in order to abduct and consume grubs, and they also help themselves to individual bees that are located on beehives. This particular form of attack is known as “bee-hawking”. Asian honey bees are vulnerable to these types of attacks because bees are active on the outside of hives where they are easy prey to hornet attacks. Luckily for east Asian honey bees, hornets can easily be repelled from attacking honey bees thanks to their rhythmic dancing. When a hornet is spotted approaching an active beehive, honey bees will stick their backsides in the air exposing their stingers. All bees present on a hive begin shimmying rhythmically with their stingers exposed. This specific act is referred to as “shimmering” and sometimes the “Mexican moon”. Upon witnessing this display, wasps give up their plan of attack and fly away. Experts are not sure why this method succeeds at discouraging enemy attacks, but some experts hypothesize that the shimmering makes it difficult for hornets to visually pinpoint one single bee for attack.
Do you think that the many stingers Asian honey bees display while shimmering intimidates hornets?