What’s the Deal With “Murder Hornets”?

Beekeeper

A couple months ago, a handful of insects appeared in the Pacific Northwest and caused quite a buzz — after all, with a nickname of “murder hornet,” how could they not. The Asian giant hornets that people spotted have venom that is toxic and can cause great pain. Rarely, it can cause death. Aside from this, the hornets, which can be about two inches long, are a predator of honey bees.

So do Bay Area residents have much to worry about? Not really according to Bonnie Morse, owner of Bonnie Bee & Company and longtime member of the Marin Beekeeper Club. “Entomologists think the news is getting overblown,” Morse says. “And even if they are able to establish a population in Washington, I can’t see them making it to the Bay Area in my lifetime unless someone brings them here.” Morse explains that the hornets can be a problem to the Asian honey bee, in part because those bees don’t tolerate smaller entrances, which can make the colony easier to defend. “We were visiting a bee researcher in Chiang Mai, Thailand last December. At one of his research apiaries, all the Asian honey bee colonies had been decimated by the giant hornets, but the European honey bee colonies survived. The difference? Likely the reduced entrance sizes of the European honey bee colonies.”

bees

In other local pollinator news, FireSAFE Marin has embraced the need to address both fire prevention and loss of biodiversity. The loss of pollinators could impact fire prevention with pollination favored by wind pollination, which includes pines, grasses and other greenery that tends to be more fire prone. For a video on how we can better prepare for fire while also protecting biodiversity and more about Bay Area bees, click here.


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Kasia PawlowskaKasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include traveltrendsmushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction, and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is a never-ending endeavor.