The Asian giant hornet — better known as the murder hornet — has touched down in the Pacific Northwest. Only time will tell if it gains a foothold and poses a serious threat to honeybees.
This largest of all hornets can be up to one and a half inches long. Its impressive mandibles are designed to bite the heads off bees so it can feed their bodies to its offspring. Giant hornets tend to attack en masse in the late summer and fall. Once inside a hive, a hornet can wipe out a bee colony within several hours. Humans can be injured, too, by very painful and repeated stings.
Honeybee pollination benefits U.S. agriculture to the tune of $15 billion each year. Already imperiled by climate change, parasites and pesticides, bees can ill afford another threat.
You can check out the Honey Bee Health Coalition for ways to keep hives buzzing.