Vespa mandarinia - BIO203


    The Vespa mandarinia have been known to attack beehives and be quite aggressive (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). While a V. mandarinia is hunting, an individual can kill up to 40 European Honey Bees in one minute. If around 25 V. mandarinia all attack at once, they can kill up to 30,000 European Honey Bees in three hours (Pollard 2005).  To begin their attack, the hornets will approach the nest and wait for a counter attack. After checking for an attack, they will go inside and kill the bees within the hive. Following the killing of the bees, they prepare a meat ball of the bees killed (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). The meat ball that the hornets prepare is a ball shaped pile of the dead honey bee mesosomas or the dead larvae. They also do this when they defend their own nest; one example being if some visiting Vespa mongolica got too close to the V. mandarinia’s nest, they would be chased away (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). If the V. mongolica was caught, the V. mandarinia would kill it and form it into a meat ball. V. mandarinia aren’t the most agile of insects, so most of their protein comes from the caterpillars and large web spiders they prey on (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). The V. mandarinia kills its prey by biting it to death with its strong mandibles or using its powerful stinger. Asian Giant Hornets tend to attack in groups, but they do not work together. Each individual works on its own to kill the bees from the hive and put the mesosoma in a pile near the hive. After most of the bees are killed, the V. mandarinia occupy the hive and bring the mesosomas of the pupae and larvae to the nest (Matsuura and Sakagami 1973). The only hornet species to have large amounts of predation on social bees is the V. mandarinia (Igarashi et al. 1995).


    A single honey bee has little to no chance of defending itself because its lone sting is not enough to penetrate the hornet’s cuticle (Pollard 2005). One of the honey bee’s only ways to defend itself is to fly away because it is more agile than the hornet. The Japanese Honey Bee has coevolved with the V. mandarinia in order to keep up its defenses against the hornets (Igarashi et al. 1995). The Japanese Honey Bees can sense the pheromone left behind by the V. mandarinia. (Igarashi et al. 1995; Pollard 2005). This pheromone allows them to prepare for a return attack. Japanese Honey Bees get about one hundred of them to surround the entrance for when the hornet comes back (Pollard 2005). Once the hornet is drawn into the nest, around one thousand bees meet it at the entrance and engulf the hornet by surrounding it (Pollard 2005). The temperature inside the quivering ball of bees reaches around 47C for around twenty minutes. This high temperature kills the V. mandarinia because hornets usually die around 44C-46C, but to kill the Japanese Honey Bee the temperature would need to reach around 50C (Pollard 2005).


    The V. mandarinia doesn't have many natural enemys to worry about, but there is one that can do quite a bit of damage.  The Xenos moutoni is one of the few natural enemies to the hornets.  This little parasite tends to infect many of the immature hornet workers, developing within them as the hornet grows.  The parasite causes the V. mandarinia to lose their reproductive abilities.  This can cause colony numbers to deplete if the parasite spreads rapidly throughout the colony.  Unfortunately for the V. mandarinia, the X. moutoni is commonly found in the same reigons as them (Makino 2011).

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