A D.C. bee expert is advising people to “chill the hell out” over reports of so-called “murder hornets,” which originated in Japan and recently made their way to Washington state.
“Everyone should chill the hell out,” said president of the D.C. Bee Keepers Alliance Toni Burnham, according to dcist.
The bees, known as Asian giant hornets or Vespa mandarinia, have been dubbed “murder hornets,” which Burnham argues is misleading and “stupid.”
“There is no more a murder hornet than there is a killer bee,” she explained. “They’re both stupid names.”
“That fear has consequences—in the past few days, she has seen photos across the country showing some people killing other bees, even bumblebees, over the murder hornet paranoia,” the dcist report said, adding, “The hornet is not new to entomologists. Like most insects, when unprovoked, they’re not a threat to humans, Burnham says.”
“These things have been around, and there are techniques for controlling them,” the bee expert explained.
According to Burnham, “murder hornets are no scarier looking than other large insects that buzz around the region, like the European hornet (which she calls flying school buses for their bright yellow torsos) or her favorite bug, cicada killers,” according to the dcist. “She urges that residents shouldn’t go out of their way to kill these creatures out of fear of a potential murder hornet invasion.”
“Let [Washington state] handle it, and everyone calm down,” she added. “Have a beer.”
Last week, news reports spread about the so-called murder hornets, adding more panic to already novel coronavirus-panicked Americans. The real issue with the bees, as highlighted by CBS News, is the apparent threat the bees might pose to the honeybee population, which in turn would affect food supply.
“[M]urder hornets become most dangerous from late summer to early fall, when they ravage through honey bee populations,” the CBS News report outlined. “WSU researchers said the hornets attack the bee hives, decapitating and killing the adults and eating the larvae and pupae. Just a few of the hornets can completely destroy a hive in a matter of hours.”
“WSDA says on their website that the hornets do not typically go after humans, but if they do, not even beekeeping suits can protect against the hornets’ stingers, which are longer and more dangerous than a bee’s,” the report noted.
As noted by Scientific American, “U.S. beekeepers supply billions of honeybees each year to help pollinate at least 90 agricultural crops. And they are worried that this new raider could further worsen already deep losses in important pollinator populations. … Early colonists brought the iconic honeybee (Apis mellifera) to North America from Europe. It contributes an estimate $15 billion each year to the U.S. economy through its pollination services, far more than any other managed bee.”
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