How Bees Are Using Animal Poo as a Defence Mechanism

How Bees Are Using Animal Poo as a Defence Mechanism

Bees are fascinating creatures like pretty much all the others that are roaming the surface of Earth and below. Our flying friends can pretty often do things that us humans cannot, and a recent conclusion proves it once again. Honey bees were found smearing buffalo feces on their hives for a completely unexpected reason.

To be more precise, the Asian honey bee species Apis cerana is the star of the show, as it was found flying around and collecting poo just like it does with pollen.

The poo repels the giant hornets

Bees and giant hornets like the Vespa soror don’t get along whatsoever, and the latter creatures can get cast off by the buffalo dung. The Vespa soror is capable of pretty terrifying stuff. They measure about an inch and a half long, they possess massive mandibles that can quickly tear off the poor Asian honey bees. When the hornets find a nest, they slice up any insects that come in their way.

But honey bees also have other interesting aces up their sleeves as defence mechanisms against the hornets. Bees can also engage in a hypnotic behavior called shimmering, as they’re coordinating their movements to send dazzling waves during their massed bodies. This method is used for confusing hornets, but also a way to provoke them.

Michael Breed, who is a social insect biologist from University of Colorado, declared:

When an animal’s looking to defend itself against a predator, sometimes it’s valuable to the animal to let the predator know that it’s been spotted,

That actually subverts a predator’s attempt to be stealthy.

Wellesley College biologist Heather Mattila, who’s the lead author of the new study, explains how the peculiar defence mechanism works:

The dung spotting around the entrances greatly reduces the time that the hornet spends landed at the entrance and really reduces the amount of time that they’re chewing on those entrances.

The new study was published in PLOS One.


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