Bees Kill Hornets By Forming a Ball and Getting All Hot

Man, those bees are having a ball! But seriously folks *dodges thrown shoe* it appears as though Japanese honeybees fend off predatorial hornets that invade their hive by forming a ball around said hornet that is exactly 46 degrees Celsius.  Which is, by my calculations, several degrees Fahrenheit.

The team thinks that the mushroom bodies allow the bees to precisely control the temperature they generate inside the bee ball. The same researchers previously discovered that this remains at 46C until the hornet is successfully killed.

Prof Kubo said that this brain region might “modulate the vibration of the flight muscle”, which is what generates this heat.

The bees, he explained, must maintain the temperature in the bee ball around 46 degrees “because, if the temperature of the bee ball is below [that], the hornet will not be killed”.

“[And] if the temperature is above 46 degrees, not only the hornet but also the bees will be killed.”

Dr Masato Ono from Tamagawa University, who also took part in the study, added: “The crucial function is to keep temperature inside the bee ball within the range of 46 to 48C, [like] a thermostat.”

The team hope eventually to find out what kind of brain function is unique to the Japanese honeybees compared to that of the European honeybees, which do not form these spherical armies.

via BBC News

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