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Hornet-killer against honey bees: who wins whom?

Являются ли шершни настоящими убийцами пчел и способен ли многотысячный улей защититься от нападения?..

There is an opinion that hornets against bees are a real war to extermination. A lot of videos, "walking" on the Internet, and even professionally filmed scientific and educational short films show how one hornet against hundreds of bees contrives not only to survive, but also to destroy numerous rivals.

Всего несколько шершней действительно могут расправиться с целой пчелиной семьей

However, only to the spectator, far from entomology, it may seem that hornets conduct a peculiar and specifically directed genocide against bees. In fact, everything is much more banal.

It's no secret that hornets are killers of almost any insects. Although it is not entirely correct to hang the label "killer" in these well-known terms on these large wasps, they are just simple hunters extracting meat for feeding their larvae.

Шершни часто убивают других насекомых, это связано с необходимостью кормить свое потомство

На фото - шершень тащит убитое насекомое для кормления личинок

For the constant growth and normal functioning of the colony, workers are forced to continuously find new prey, kill it and bring it to the nest. These insects are simply programmed by nature for such behavior. And it does not matter, the caterpillar, the bee or even the little frog will fall under the powerful jaws - the clever hunter will do everything possible to ensure that the extraction has benefited his family.

Шершни являются типичными хищниками

On a note

By and large, the hornet is the killer exactly to the same extent, in which this formidable word can be called, for example, an ant. Everyone knows that every ant constantly brings to its home small caterpillars, larvae of beetles and other insects, but no one calls him a murderer. Perhaps this is because hunting an ant is still not as spectacular and accessible to the observer, as, for example, the struggle of a mantis and a hornet.

Борьба крупных насекомых с шершнем выглядит довольно зрелищно

A beehive hive for a hornet is practically an ideal food object. First, near the nest these honey-bearing insects gather in large quantities, so they are easy to catch. Secondly, they are the most valuable source of nutrients for predator larvae. And finally, thirdly, the devastation of the hive makes it possible to eat honey, and this is especially nice for large wasps. their adults eat mainly sweet foods.

Взрослые шершни любят полакомиться медом из пчелиного улья

Thus, the presence of at least one hive in the habitat of winged predators does provide the entire colony with a full balanced diet, and without much difficulty. It is not surprising that hornets kill bees often and in plenty, although they do not specialize only in hunting for them.

Hornets and bees: hunters and victims

Bumblebee, hornet, bee and wasp are representatives of a large detachment of Hymenoptera insects, which also include ants and riders. All of them are united by similarity in appearance and some features of behavior.

И шершень, и пчела относятся к одному отряду насекомых, но их размеры и особенности поведения разительно отличаются

However, hornets, wasps, bees and bumblebees are, in addition, owners of poisonous stings.

It is interesting

The sting is also provided with some rather primitive tropical ants, and their bite is much more painful than the bite of a common bee.

The toxins of all the poisonous insects of this detachment are generally quite similar in composition. However, the poison of each particular species has a number of characteristics that determine its effect on the body of the stung.

На фото хорошо видно жало шершня

So, for example, the poison of a hornet is distinguished by a high allergenicity, it influences the nerve receptors of the enemy more than others. But at the same time, the poison of the bee causes a stronger poisoning of the body due to the large amount of toxin injected at a time.

Как яд пчелы, так и яд шершня отличаются высокой аллергенностью

As already noted, different types of insects are poisonous in different ways. For example, an ordinary hornet stings, of course, it hurts, but its bites are rarely accompanied by serious consequences. But the huge Asian hornet is one of the most dangerous insects on Earth.

В отличие от европейского, гигантский азиатский шершень является очень опасным насекомым

In the video, you can see in detail how a hornet kills bees - it uses its powerful jaws for this, and not poison, as an uninformed viewer might think.

In hunting hornets for bees, you can see a certain pattern - in most cases, predators do not attack single victims collecting nectar. They act more cunningly - hunt them down and fix the location of the nest, then to come back here in a larger number.

Depending on the type of winged predators, a different number of attackers are required to completely ruin the hive of honeybirds. This rule is in effect almost always, but there are also some nuances here.

So, for example, if we are talking about European hornets, then theoretically, only a few hundred predatory insects can destroy a hive of 10-15 thousand individuals. However, very rare hornet families reach such sizes by the end of summer, and therefore in our country these predators prefer to attack single bees, without risking at the same time to attack the hives. But even in such cases, the damage to apiaries is quite appreciable.

Чаще всего шершни предпочитают нападать на отдельных пчел и не трогают улей

Quite another matter - giant Asian hornets-killers, measuring almost twice as large as those of European relatives. Without special methods of protecting the bee against the hornets of this species are absolutely helpless. Let's take a closer look at these formidable, but from no less interesting, predators.

Giant hornets and their hunting for bees

One of the determining factors of the superiority of the giant Asian hornet over the smaller relatives is its size. The length of the body of this largest wasp is more than 5 cm, i.е. almost three times more than the same parameters of a working bee. With one verified jaw movement, a huge attacking predator easily breaks the articulation of the head and chest of its victim, after which it becomes paralyzed and can no longer move.

Гигантскому шершню нет нужды пускать в ход свое жало в борьбе с пчелой - одним движением таких челюстей он просто переламывает ее

For a minute, such a hornet can kill more than 30 bees, and to destroy a many thousands of honey family, a detachment of only 30-40 predators needs only a few hours.

It is interesting

The chitinous cover of the hornet's body is so hard that the bees, when protected, can pierce it with sting only in some places. But in this case too, the attacking insect will not suffer much.

Пчелам весьма сложно пробить твердый хитиновый покров шершня, поэтому он для них почти неуязвим

The video usually shows well how huge hornets act against bees defending their beehive: predators practically do not use sting.

And since the bee family is such a "tasty morsel" for hornets, the latter are eager to search for hives and destroy entire families.

It is interesting that the war of bees against hornets is a process launched by man. Without its influence, such an active extermination does not happen in nature.

Bees as a defending side: their capabilities and secret weapons

In nature, species The giant Asian hornet and the European honey bee do not intersect with each other: the first inhabits Japan and Southeast Asia, the second - in Europe and the Middle East.

На фотографии показан Гигантский азиатский шершень, настоящий убийца пчел

Европейская медоносная пчела

But Asian bees are struggling with hornets very original, developed in the course of joint evolution, a method: a large number of potential victims sticks to the predator, forming around it a huge - up to 30 cm in diameter - a ball of their bodies. In this case, insects actively move their wings.

Азиатские пчелы объединяются в огромный шар для того, чтобы убить попавшего в улей шершня

This behavior is explained by the fact that from such a muscular work the air inside the ball is heated, and the heat from the movement of the wings is directed to its center, i.e. to the attacking insect. For a giant predator, the temperature is 46-47 ° C, therefore, after an hour of being in such a bowl, it dies, destroying only a few hosts of the nest. By themselves, bees can normally tolerate temperatures of up to 50 ° C, and those that do not fall under the jaws of a dying giant wasp survive.

It is interesting

To organize one ball and destroy one hornet, you need about 500 bees. A family of 15-20 thousand workers can survive the attack of 30-35 hornets, which reliably protects them from these natural enemies.

If we talk about European bees living in the latitudes of our country, it is worth noting that they can not defend themselves in this way. In the wild nature, local hornets do not attack honey bee hives, and evolutionary defensive behavior among European bees has not evolved.

But these insects collect much more honey, which is why Japanese beekeepers bring and actively try to breed them in the habitats of giant hornets .

Европейские пчелы собирают больше меда, чем азиатские

As mentioned above, the war of bees against hornets is an artificial phenomenon, provoked entirely by man. Therefore, attempts by Asian beekeepers rarely end in success - when huge predators find a hive that can not be protected, a real slaughter begins. Without the forced migration of bees to the other side of the continent, this would not happen.

Гигантские шершни нападают на европейских пчел исключительно в силу переселения человеком пчел в новый для них ареал обитания

By the way, that's why most of the videos with the attack of hornets on bees are removed in artificial evidence. European bees are not able to reproduce in the natural conditions of Asia, because predatory giant wasps can attack them only in the apiary.

Hornets against bumblebees: who is stronger at meeting?

The relationship of giant wasps with other insects is similar to their relationship with bees: virtually any arthropod, which is inferior to this predator in size and strength, is its potential victim. Let's define the most vivid opponents of hornets.

A hornet and a bumblebee are a clear hunter and victim.

Даже сопоставимый со шмелем по размерам европейский шершень является для него грозным противником

The bumblebee is also defenseless before this predatory insect, like a bee, only for its killing it is necessary to put more effort. However, it is worth noting that the European hornet on the bumblebee is unlikely to attack because of its small size, but the Asian one is quite capable of this.

Шмель абсолютно беззащитен перед гигантским азиатским шершнем

Thus, if the size of competitors is approximately equal, it is impossible to say unequivocally who is stronger - a bumblebee or hornet. The probability is great that at a meeting the bumblebee against the hornet will stand.

На фото представлен шмель

It is also reckless enough to argue that these insects are enemies. In most cases, they are nevertheless neighbors who simply have to tolerate each other. The hornet from the hornet is more peaceable, and also because it is not a predator. Nevertheless, he is able to give a worthy repulse to the attacker.

Collisions of these insects in wildlife are almost never recorded, and therefore the video "hornet against the bumblebee" is a rarity. Here is one of a few examples:

  • Hornet and wasp - in general, a similar pair of "predator-prey". Оса так же беззащитна перед шершнем, как и пчела
  • Attacks of a hornet's nest of wasps occur extremely rarely, because the wasps are exactly the same predators, and, having gathered together in large numbers, they are able to successfully resist the attackers.
  • The mantis against the hornet, unlike the two previous rivals, is practically helpless.
  • Powerful paws - the only weapon of a mantis against aggressors - can not harm a large ax. Hornet against such a victim does not even apply poison, because to win it is enough to only gnaw at the insect articulation in the neck.

The video shows how the hornet kills the mantis:

To whom the hornet will yield in battle

By analogy with the previous connections of hornets, it is possible to identify those who will be more likely to be an aggressor in relation to this insect.

Apart from all the others there are relations of winged predators with spiders.

А вот паук является грозным противником и для самого шершня

It is interesting that a spider against a hornet can look both as a victim and as a killer at the same time. So, for example, small spiders hunting without creating a web - small tarantulas, horses, haymakers - often fall into the jaws of a hornet and perish. But if the insect itself crawls into the web, even if not a very large and non-poisonous spider for a person, a cross, it is most likely to be eaten.

The video shows how quickly and expertly the spider deals with the hornet in its web:

The hornet against the tarantula spider has an average chance of winning. These rivals have approximately the same body size, but the spider's organism, among other things, is equipped with the strongest poison and very powerful chelicera. Therefore, in this skirmish, the one who bites first will win.

Паук тарантул, помимо паутины, может пустить в ход и свой сильный яд

The nearest relatives of hornets - large road wasps and wandering ants - can also be formidable rivals.

Despite their physiological fitness to kill, the hornets themselves often become their victims. This is explained by the fact that the wasps have a very powerful poison, destructive for the hornet, and the ants simply take quantity - they always attack the group.

One of the most original biological enemies of hornets is the unique fungus that develops in the brain of an insect.

Spores of this fungus enter the body of the hornet through the mouth or the airways and germinate in its head. The mycelium develops specific substances in its development, which cause insects to feel a constant thirst.

Willy-nilly, driven by instinct, the hornet searches for a suitable place for drinking, and here the developing mushroom killer causes paralysis in the insect. The victim freezes in a completely unexpected pose - for example, hanging on a blade of grass.

Пораженный грибком шершень взобрался на ветку

At the last stage of its life cycle, the parasite releases a fruiting body, thereby spreading new controversies already in a humid environment that is favorable for this process. Thus, the predatory insect destroys life by giving it another, albeit so ambiguous, living organism. Entomologists often find wasps and hornets with dried mushrooms, sticking out of their heads.

Enemies have hornets among vertebrates.

Beef - birds that specialize in feeding bees and wasps - catch the hornet so that it can not sting them. After that they smash the insect on the stone and, without causing harm to their health, swallow.

Similarly, some other insectivorous birds can also eat hornets. But from mammals, the only thing that is dangerous for this insect is a person who has learned without much difficulty to destroy not only individual wasps, but also their nests.

Наиболее же опасным противником шершня является человек, зачастую бездумно уничтожающий их гнезда.

Nevertheless, most often the hornets do not perish from the "hand" of worthy opponents, but from small parasites-mites, nematodes and riders who can not be destroyed.

To summarize, we can not fail to mention the well-known scientific fact: there is nothing useless in living nature. The life cycle of each organism obeys strict laws; every organism in nature occupies its own niche and can serve, in varying degrees, as a predator or prey.

So does the hornet: there are objects that he eats, acting as a formidable killer, and there are those who destroy him, paying no attention to all the power of the biological weapons of this insect.

If you decide to deal with hornets or wasps yourself, then we recommend using only proven in practice tools that have shown their high efficiency:

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