Murder Hornets Deadly Immigrants Increasing Diversity and Vibrancy in Bee Hives By Brian Simpson

     These little monsters have now entered the US, not yet Australia. Basically, these insects attack honey bee hives, systematically killing every bee, then making food out of them. The Asian honey bee fights back by masses of them forming a bee-ball over the hornet, metabolically cooking them, but the European bee has not evolved to do this, so hives get wiped out.

      It is like a deadlier version of the corona plague, one to really worry about, since bee colonies are already under threat with colony collapse disorder, which while not in the news much, is still out there, and a threat:

“If bees die, we could well die too. Life is that simple, the science tells us. The busy little insects pollinate most of the crops the human race relies on for its survival. Seventy of the top 100 food crops grown worldwide rely on pollinators, that’s around 90 per cent of the world’s nutrition. So, if we lose bees, we lose. Almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, capsicums, cashews, coffee, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplants, grapes, kiwi fruit, mangoes, okra, peaches, pears, rockmelons, strawberries, tangerines, walnuts and watermelons. If there are no bees, these plants cease to exist. And bees - estimated to help produce around $170 billion in crops worldwide each year - are struggling. Populations are plummeting. Over the past 15 years, bee colonies have been disappearing in what is known as “colony collapse disorder”. Some regions have seen losses of up to 90 per cent, according to news reports. While the bees emergency has been rolling on for several years, the UN last week called for immediate action to avoid a “global food emergency,” saying more than 820 million people are hungry, about 144 million children under the age of 5 have stunted growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there is more than enough food to feed the world’s 7.8 billion people, but “our food systems are failing.” And if bee numbers keep declining at their current rate, the problem will only get worse. Dr Veenstrahas a dire warning. “We could struggle to sustain the global human population,’ she says. ”If we lost all the plants that honey bees pollinate, the small animals that eat those plants will be negatively impacted resulting in fewer prey species for larger carnivorous animals and so on up the food chain.”

     While we should take anything the UN says with a semi-trailer load of salt, on the threat to bees, they are probably right, since on the ground bee keepers across the world are worried sick.

     Do not underestimate the European wasps in Australia, which attack any mammal they do not like; nasty pasties:,European%20wasp%20(Vespula%20germanica)

“The impacts of invasive mammals such as feral horses and feral cats have featured prominently in the media over the years. But the recent discovery of the infamous “murder hornet” (or giant Asian hornet Vespa mandarinia) in the US has shone a spotlight on a similar invasive insect in Australia, the European wasp (Vespula germanica). Our recent study showed this aggressive insect swarming decayed corpses, decapitating its prey and picking fights with dingoes. Invasive plants and animals can have catastrophic impacts on wildlife. And along with habitat loss and overexploitation, they are the greatest threat faced by native Australian species. Our research looks into the role of European wasps as scavengers. In Australia, animal carcasses aren’t in short supply. Millions are produced each year due to culling, vehicle collision and drought. The recent bushfires also added to this. Most carcasses are left to rot and provide perfect “free feed” stations for wasp colonies foraging for protein. For our study, we monitored 20 kangaroo carcasses at Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. Wasps congregated in large numbers around each, and ruthlessly attacked blowflies that attempted to approach. We could sit next to a carcass and watch fly after fly tackled to the ground by wasps. Many flies showed signs of mutilation. To our surprise, some were even missing their heads. In an effort to protect “their” carcass, the European wasps were decapitating the flies. This may have simply been defensive behaviour, but they could have also been taking bits of flies back to their nest for larvae to feed on. We also observed the wasps bothering animals much larger than them, and our camera trap images showed dingoes snapping at wasps circling carcasses. Many of these animals retreated without feeding on the resource, presumably because the wasps were stinging them.”

     These European migrants have certainly increased our diversity hit parade! Just ask the stung dingos! Anything that can take on the Aussie blowie must be feared!



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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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