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'Murdersquishing' Them To Death: How Little Bees Take On Enormous Hornets

Friday, September 19, 2014 - 05:51 PM

I know, I know. You have Putin to worry about, ISIS to worry about, Britain's near breaking, Washington's broken, and the globe keeps getting warmer — so why bring up Japanese giant hornets? You have worries enough. But I can't help myself. I've got to mention these hornets because, as bad as they are — and they are very, very bad ...

Japanese giant hornet vs. European honeybees.

 ... this story has a happy ending.

Hornets From Hell

Japanese giant hornets have large yellow heads, enormous eyes, and they eat bees. "Eat" is too polite. They grab European honeybees, rip off their heads, tear off limbs, throw those parts away and take the big, juicy middle piece (the thorax) back to their kids (the larvae). They are unstoppable. A single hornet, you are about to learn, can kill 40 European honeybees a minute.

European bees, being new to Japan (brought in by cultivators), have evolved no defenses. They haven't had time. But there's a second group of bees — the locals, the Japanese honeybees — who have found a way. It's precise, orchestral and deadly.

How Bees Fight Back

Matt Inman, who writes and draws a wonderful blog called The Oatmeal, bumped into these hornets — literally — while running through a forest in Japan. Being curious, he read up on them, and in his new book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, he describes how a crowd of little Japanese bees gets revenge using what Matt happily calls a "Steamy Hot Murdersquish":

A totally unnecessary digression about Japanese giant hornets by The Oatmeal.


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 It is. Very neat.


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Comments [17]

Krakena from Boston, MA

Steamy hot murdersquish + "how to you like your god now?" frame = Fabulous.

Dec. 20 2014 06:02 PM
Stacey D from Boston

Bromskie, it actually does say 1.5 seconds, although it's a bit hard to tell. I just thought about it for a second, realized that may would be incredibly off, so I looked harder.

And I totally agree that all of you complaining is just ridiculous. Yes, this article now exists in two places on the internet, with full credit given to the person that wrote it (will done Matt! Very cool.) What a travesty! Or maybe, it introduces people that may not know about the Oatmeal to go visit, or people at the Oatmeal that may not know about Krulwich/Radiolab blog to be inspired to visit. Krulwich liked Matthew Inman's work, and posted it here. Did you like it? Or, if you had already read it, could you skip it? Just quit your bitching about the stupidest things, my goodness!

Oct. 21 2014 05:41 PM
Ben from Hollywood, CA

Here is a video of this

Oct. 07 2014 12:44 PM
Moe from Washington (the state, not the D.C.)

IleanaDU - "So, you are mistaken; it is the oatmeal that took Krulwich's article"

Um, no. Matthew Inman/The Oatmeal wrote and drew this comic for his upcoming book. Krulwich thought it was cool and funny and wanted to share it, so he reproduced it here, as well as on his blog at Krulwich got permission from, and clearly gave full credit to, the original author. Afterwards, Inman posted the comic to his own website as a pre-release preview of his book. No one took anything from anyone, and no one tried to pass off someone else's work as his own.

And I love the people here who scoff at the "laziness" of someone who sees something interesting and wants to bring it to the attention of a larger audience. You know, that thing people do on blogs all the time.

Oct. 04 2014 04:05 PM

For those accusing Krulwich of plagiarizing, or taking his article directly from the Oatmeal, note that the Oatmeal page at the very top contains the following sentence:

"This comic was originally featured on NPR via Robert Krulwich's blog, Krulwich Wonders, and I'm reposting it here as well."

So, you are mistaken; it is the oatmeal that took Krulwich's article and re-posted it AND they gave proper credit.

Makes you kind of wonder who the Oatmeal is, doesn't it?

Oct. 02 2014 01:05 PM

I wish I could get paid money to re-post an entire segment from somebody else.

Sep. 27 2014 07:31 AM
Lukas from austria

I have seen the documentary about the Hornets and Bees years ago. It is outstanding.

Sep. 27 2014 07:10 AM

So, this article was you unblinkingly reposting the Oatmeal's content ? Wow journalism must be hard.

Sep. 27 2014 03:55 AM
pat warren from Hanford, CA

Fascinating! I love Radiolab, and try never to miss it. Our poor honeybees!

Sep. 26 2014 10:05 PM
JDG from columbus

Chris Bomnskie, learn how to zoom in, aka enlarge a pic.

Sep. 26 2014 09:19 PM

Steamy-Hot Murdersquish is the name of my new punk-metal jam band.

Sep. 26 2014 07:44 PM
Chris Bomnskie

I think it would be 1 corpse every 1.5 seconds, not 15.

Sep. 26 2014 07:31 PM

The giant hornet kicking the head off the bee...needs to be a shirt...available in up to 3XLT (3xl tall)...

I would order 2...

Sep. 26 2014 06:07 PM
M from Boulder


Sep. 26 2014 05:38 PM

Krulwich + The Oatmeal = Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Sep. 26 2014 05:29 PM

Krulwich is such a good writer. Brilliant.

Sep. 26 2014 05:22 PM
Ian from Portland, OR

I wonder if this kind of group hornet/honey bee behavior happens in North America as well? I witnessed something similar and bizzare. I was in the middle of a large field to play soccer with my kids, and we watched in amazement a hornet and a honey bee colliding mid-air, fighting it out in a small patch of clover, and the honey bee gave off a frantic rapid buzzing of it's wings. The hornet quickly chewed the bee in half, and then picked up the abdomen and flew away!

Sep. 26 2014 02:05 PM

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