Monday, July 12, 2010

The Bee's Knees

A friendly little pollinator I interrupted enjoying a newly blossomed and quite tightly coiled white hibiscus flower. Known as Apis cerana, or mitsubachi in Japanese, they are tiny honey bees that prefer to nest in small spaces (such as hollowed out tree trunks). Like the Western honey bee, they are sometimes domesticated and used in apiculture, mostly in wooden boxes with fixed frames. The mitsubachi are friendly fellows, it is the Japanese Giant Hornet that should be steered well clear of. Actually the mitsubachi have a unique defense against the hornet. Many bees will gather near the entrance of the nest to bait a trap, and as the hornet enters the nest (the hornet feeds on bee larva) a large mob of about five hundred bees surrounds it. Completely covered, the hornet is immobilized and the temperature of this ball-o-bees is so great the hornet dies from heat exhaustion.

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