Questions for “Honeybees fend off deadly hornets by decorating hives with poop”

a blue beehive with Asian honeybees applying dung to the outside of the hive

Asian honeybees collect animal dung and apply small clumps of it to the entrance of a blue-colored hive. This “fecal spotting” behavior deters predatory giant hornets.

H. Mattila

To accompany “Honeybees fend off deadly hornets by decorating hives with poop


Before Reading:

1.  Why do you think bees are often afraid of hornets?

2.  When honeybees go foraging, what types of things do they intentionally bring back to their hives?

During Reading:

1.  Some honeybees have just been shown to collect poop. Why do they do this? And how big is each deposit they collect?

2.  Where do the bees that do this live? And why do they seek out dung?

3.  Some hornets attack bees? What type of havoc can those predators do to a bee or its hive?

4.  What is the difference between Apis mellifera and Apis cerana?

5.  What is “bee balling” and how does it work? 

6.  What is the “wave” treatment to deter bee predators?

After Reading:

1.  One hornet species that attacks the Asian honeybees studied in this story has just been spotted at several sites in North America. Based on what you read in the story, do you think these hornets would pose a threat to American bees? And if they did, would you expect American bees to start using the poop-defense against them? Explain your reasoning.