The Media is telling us that America is being invaded by the Asian giant hornet and that we need to be very afraid as they pose a threat to our bee colonies and will cripple agriculture. The question is, do we really need to be afraid?
So, what are Asian Giant Murder Hornets? In a nutshell, the Murder hornets are hornets on steroids. Murder Hornet queens can grow to be up to 2-inches long and their quarter-inch stingers can pierce your typical beekeeping attire. The hornets are native to Asia, but according to Mike Baker for the New York Times, they were seen in North America for the first time at the end of 2019.
Although Murder Hornets are very capable of destroying entire honey bee hives in hours Floyd Shockley, the entomology collections manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History says “we shouldn’t be worried.
“More people die of honey bee stings in the U.S. than die annually, globally, from these hornets. About 60 to 80 people die from [allergic] reactions to honey bee stings [in the U.S.]; only about 40 people die per year, in Asia, mostly in Japan, from reactions to the [giant hornet] stings.”Floyd Shockley – Entomology collections manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
“Is it possible that a few beekeepers are going to lose a few hives? Yes. I can’t rule out that possibility. But is it going to be global devastation? No,” says Shockley. “It’s important to focus on the facts, and the facts don’t support that this is an established invasive that’s going to destroy the North American honey bee industry.”
That said, the sting of the Asian giant hornet is far more painful and toxic than that of a honey bee. Researchers have likened the sensation to having a hot nail driven into one’s flesh. However, Shockley says giant hornets are only dangerous if provoked and tend to keep to themselves unless threatened.
Here is what Coyote Peterson of ‘Brave Wild’ had to say about Murder Hornets and actually being stung by one.
As for a Murder Hornet invasion, Entomologists at Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) say, “This is our window to keep it from establishing,” Chris Looney, an entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, tells the Times. “If we can’t do it in the next couple of years, it probably can’t be done.”
But Shockley says these current isolated reports don’t suggest a full-scale invasion that could endanger U.S. crops anytime soon.