Asian ‘Murder Hornets’ Endangering Native Honeybee Populations

Steven Moore, Sports Statistician

Recently, news has spread of the Vespa Mandarina, also known as ‘Murder Hornets’ colonizing
to Canada and now to cities in Washington State, close to the Canadian border. Although the name may
sound vicious, they are mainly endangering our local honeybee populations more so than humans.
Potentially, the Murder Hornets could wipe out all honeybee colonies using their relentless method of
decapitation. Although there is no indication on how the hornets could have entered the US, scientists
initially suspected they were related to the colony previously found in Canada, until that hypothesis was
disproved through testing. People should not be intimidated by the nickname given to the species. They
should however be worried about the negative impact this is having on pollination and let alone the
malicious deaths of innocent honeybees. These two-inch hornets will stop at no cost when trying to

Even though these new hornets have made their way across the Pacific Ocean, it is not likely
that we will see any new sightings in other areas. Although their course of arrival cannot be confirmed,
researchers believe the hornets were somehow trapped in shipping containers from one of the
countries in which they are native. There has been an estimation made by scientists that a slim 2 percent of
shipments are searched for evidence of harmful organisms such as plant pests. Therefore, the chance of
an invasive species such as these hornets migrating across the Pacific is somewhat high.

Scientists have made comparisons of our everyday mosquitoes and these new, invasive hornets.
Evidence shows that the mosquitoes are much more dangerous than the hornets because of the potential
diseases that can spread through mosquito blood. Diseases such as malaria have been the cause of over
400,000 yearly deaths, all of which are caused by mosquitoes. As of now, the murder hornets are only
responsible for 100-200 deaths every year worldwide, 50 of those being in Japan. However, mosquitoes
are something we cannot control. They can be found all over the world, especially in warm and humid
environments. The good news is mosquitoes will only hunt for blood when they are hungry. Likewise,
the murder hornets will only sting when they are in a pressure situation or frightened in any way. If
scientists can find a way to control the spread of the murder hornets and limit their reproduction rate,
we will not have anything to worry about when it comes to honeybee populations, in addition to human
endangerment from the new hornet species.

Luckily for us, these hornets are not capable of withstanding extreme heat nor cold. Pacific
Northwest winters can be freezing, with temperatures reaching as low as twenty degrees Fahrenheit in the
year 2019. This type of harsh weather will drive them out of their established habitats if it comes to that
point. In addition, they cannot become accustomed to the blazing hot sun in states such as Arizona,
where temperatures reach triple digits in the summertime regularly. More importantly, when comparing
stings from different types of hornets, a sting from your typical yellow jacket will send a jolting shock of
pain through your body, but a seldom murder hornet sting has been compared to burning hot metal
driving through your flesh. The venom itself is toxic and creates localized necrosis around the wound so
you’ll see melting flesh around the area which you were stung. This may sound very daunting and
frightening, but even if a human were to see one of these hornets in person, they will be more scared of
you than you are of it, and the best advice scientists have given is to try your best to stay calm if this
type of situation were to ever occur.

Nowadays, things such as social media will try to scare the public with over exaggerating news
that is not as bad as the true facts really are. Sophomore Michael Moore said, “At first, I was intimidated
by the name because I did not know much about the species, but now I feel like I over reacted.” In
addition to this, senior Sara Jones said, “I did not think much of these hornets initially, until I saw a
picture of one.” There are many ways this situation is being viewed, but there is nothing to worry about
from a human standpoint right now.

The most important task ahead for scientists studying the new population is to try to find a
way to eliminate the Asian hornets in the United States before they destroy honeybee communities.
Honeybees are vital to pollination which is how honey is produced and crops are fertiilized. Honey is the only insect created
good that has numerous health benefits ranging from aiding sleep, alleviating sore throats and colds,
and strengthening the immune system. Honey is a natural remedy for a lot of health-related issues.
Sadly, it only takes one or two murder hornets to wipe out a whole hive of honeybees in just a couple of
hours. Defenseless honeybees stand no chance in defending themselves against these vicious hornets.
Hopefully a method of eliminating the hornets will be found soon but as of now, people should not be
too worried about the hornets as scientists are keeping a close eye on the situation.