02 April 2012

"Hot Defensive Bee Ball"

For this year's A-Z challenge, I'm posting juicy tidbits of researchy goodness for your interest and edification. I intend to use these as story prompts for the terrifying writing challenge Story a Day in May. You may use them however you wish.

When I'm looking for a model for an alien species, I find insects especially useful. I'm currently working on a story that models an alien planet's biology after certain creatures direct from the world of nightmare parasitic insects. Lately I've been thinking about bees.

Source
There has been some fuss (will not pun on "buzz") about the global decline of honey bee populations lately. Recent research suggests that certain pesticides interfere with the bees' ability to navigate back to the hive, and that the increase in disease in bee populations might also be due to pesticide use. This is bad because, as Albert Einstein famously noted, "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!"

I was going to write about that, but then I came across this little gem, and I couldn't resist, because OMG BEES ARE TERRIFYING!

From the Telegraph's attention-grabbing article: "Japanese Honeybees Cook Enemy in 'Hot Defensive Bee Ball.'"
"When the hornet, the Japanese honeybee's natural enemy, enters a colony, the bees quickly form a 'hot defensive bee ball,' trapping the hornet inside and heating it up to 46 degrees C (115F) with their collective body heat," said Atsushi Ugajin, a University of Tokyo graduate student. 
He said that while the high temperature phase lasts about 20 minutes, it often takes up to an hour before the hornet dies inside the ball.
Now there's a sci fi / fantasy creature defense mechanism I can work with.

Source

49 comments:

Amanda Heitler said...

By bizarre coincidence, I have two gaming groups tangling with insects right now. One lot are contending with a spawn-spitting hive queen, the others with a batch of outsize spiders (yes, yes, I know, arachnids are not the same). They're suitably terrified.

Pearson Report said...

Hi Elizabeth - what a great "Bee" post. I've had a scary experience, a couple of years ago, that has given me new found respect for the little bee! (or in my case a deadly wasp).

I am really enjoying your posts.

Jenny @ Pearson Report
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

wyldstatic said...

what a terribly interesting idea for the a-z posts. I'm intrigued. and I WILL be back. thanks for the visit to my blog also. I have really enjoyed all the wonderful comments.

J.C. Martin said...

Ah yes, the bee ball! Insects truly have some pretty alien traits, haven't they?

J.C. Martin
A to Z Blogger

Sari Webb said...

Wow, that is one freaky, yet obvious when you think about it, thought. The bees die - we die. Save the bees! Save the bees!

Also, did you know that ant colony theory is used in robotic engineering? Animals are interesting. :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

The other reason I've heard for the bee decline is cell phone towers. Something about the signals upsets them and adds to their decline.

Oh I am just cringing looking at that picture. On a hiking trip for a youth group, some girl kicked a discarded lunch bag and set off a swam of bees on the group. 60 stings for like, 20 girls. I was one of three girls that didn't get stung because I took off sprinting when the first girl screamed. (If it had been a bear, I'd probably be in the most trouble.)

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I'm sure all the people who don't believe in global warming will also say bees aren't going extinct either...until they do and we all starve to death.

Simon Kewin said...

Fascinating! A "hot defensive beel ball" - who'd have thought it? I agree: a great way to "research" alien species. Thanks for dropping by mine!

Miranda Hardy said...

That picture is scary, but the information utterly interesting.

Name: Luana Krause said...

Very interesting! Einstein should know. He has a lot of scientific clout. Great post. The guy covered in bees is so freaky. Ever see the movie "Swarm"? It's about the revenge of the bees.

Sarah Pearson said...

I bet I wasn't the only one who instantly started thinking of ways to work that into a story :-)

Margo Kelly said...

And, now I have the itchies. ick. THANKS A LOT! (jk)

Have a great week!

Jay Noel said...

That pic gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

brrrrrrrrrrr that picture!!!!

I wrote an article about bees once. All my research said that once bees die it is over for us very soon. All the more reason to fight to save them :)

Elizabeth Twist said...

Nice. I'm getting itchy just thinking about it.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yikes, wasps scare me. My poor little dog has had a few trips to the vet after wasp stings. Bees are generally much more benevolent, except when they swarm together to cook the opposition.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks! Just popped by yours. Super cute photos.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It is crazytown.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I did not know that, Sari. Interesting times.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hi Kimberlee! Welcome. Didn't know about the cell phone towers. We are polluting our world in ways we don't realize.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Apparently the key is organic farming. Pesticide-free bees are doing okay.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Heya, Simon. Feel free to create your own alien species. I will be.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks, Miranda!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I don't know if I've ever watched "Swarm" intentionally, but it sounds familiar from late night tv travels.

Remember killer bees? They were the big fear in the 1970s. I remember swimming in the kiddie pool when I was little, and worrying about the swarm coming for me.

Ah....the 1970s.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yay! Go for it.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Ha ha you're welcome! (Me too.)

Elizabeth Twist said...

p.s. Margo I like what you're doing over at your place - anybody looking at this please drop by Margo's and consider donating a book or a buck or two for her local high school's library.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I know, right?

Elizabeth Twist said...

This is what I understand too, Sylvia. They are an intimate part of our food supply.

MOV said...

my sister is a bee-keeper for a hobby in her spare time! crazy!!!

found you on the a to z challenge, will be back to read more!!

best,
MOV

Bushman said...

Honey bees are cool. I have had the pleasure of sticking my hand in one of those big boxes and not getting stung. They are quite docile in fact. My Big Brown Dog likes to eat them though.

Jennifer Lane said...

Elizabeth, terrifying post. I'm still twitching from the tracker jacker scene in The Hunger Games! Thanks for the follow and now I'm a follower of your blog. Good luck with the challenge!

Alicia C. said...

A-Z Explorer! Love it! Yes...insects are always great motivation for me when I trying to make up an alien race. Wonder why that is? :)
Well done! I'll be back!

Saffron Wine

Mark K said...

Bees I can live with and respect, but wasps - never understand their role? Just wait till we reach the letter 'T', I'll be posting, with pics, about my time keeping and breeding tarantulas ;)

Gwen said...

Bees can be frightening, especially the killer ones. But wasps have always been the ones to freak me out, mainly because they're so huge!

MTeacress said...

Yep, I've the love-hate thing going on when in comes to bees. I love the honey and the bees wax, not the allergic reaction to their sting.

Pleased to meet you in this a-z challenge. Have a good week. :)

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

I confess, it is I who is killing all the bees while I manufacture pollinating bee robots in my bid to control the world.

I love this creatures-of-nature trend you're on. I have dear hopes you're planning a dung beetle article on Wednesday!

Deborah Walker said...

I love hind minds, and the social insects are a good starting point for aliens, I agree.

That hot bee ball is truly strange. It's incredible what you can pluck from the real world to inspire your stories.

Traci Kenworth said...

I respect bees--and keep my distance. Lol.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Exactly!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I'm not sure how I'm going to fold that into a story, but it's so wonderful it deserves fictional recycling.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I'm glad you love it, because for some reason I'm having a hard time getting away from it. Later in the month I've got posts planned on Jungian evil entities, historical hoaxes, jazz songs, and venereal disease, so the trend will shift eventually.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. I am loving your A-Z theme, by the way. My curiosity is piqued.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Wasps are super scary. Seriously. Bees are scary I guess if you're caught in one of their defense scrums? That's what I learned in writing this post.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Can't wait to learn about your tarantulas, Mark. They're lovely in their own right.

Wasps, I think are best understood in their role as nightmare fuel.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hope you enjoy the rest of the tour, Alicia!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yikes! Tracker jackers! I was pleased with how they represented them in the movie...not too over the top, but mean-looking in the same way that wasps are.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It is amazing what dogs will eat. I feel a bit sorry for the bees. :(

Elizabeth Twist said...

I think it's a cool hobby. I imagine it's time consuming?

Nice to meet you! *bows*

ShareThis