Murder Hornets: A Potential Threat


Sam Payne, Editor-in-Chief

In late 2019 a new insect was found in Blaine, Washington, after careful investigation it was found that these insects were giant Asian hornets which some have dramatically begun calling “murder hornets.”  It is unclear how they arrived here, and how well they will do in this ecosystem but one thing is for certain that they pose a threat to honeybee colonies.

“ It’s hard to tell how big of a threat this will pose to our hives right now.  I just hope it won’t lead to any losses,” apiarist, Daniel Payne said. 

These hornets are two inches in length and when stung can deliver toxic venom with their large stingers, which has been compared to been impaled with burning hot nail. 

“ These insects are pretty formidable and I am worried,”  Entomologist Chris Looney said. 

It has also been reported that 30 to 50 people die a year from stings these insects, and in 2013 they killed 42 people in a single Chinese province. 

“Americans do not fully understand the aggressiveness and toxicity of this hornet,” researcher and wasp expert Jun-ichi Takahashi said. 

In the event that these hornets attack a colony of honeybees, the hornet bites the heads of bees with their large mandibles. A sizable group of hornets can wipe out a hive in around 90 minutes. Honey bees only defense against the hornets is the bunch up together and cover the hornet and create a heat field and actually heat the hornet up until it cannot withstand the temperatures and dies. Although this technique has only been adopted by Japanese honeybees which have co-evolved with the hornets over time. 

“It’s going to be tough to stop the hornet, but yeah, we have a shot at it,” Looney said.  

Due to social distancing, the information in this article was obtained from