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Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Honeybees make an audible warning noise when attacked by murder hornets

They descend en masse after a scout has identified the target hive, killing the defending adult bees, occupying their nest and harvesting the bees’ brood to feed to their own young. The marauders can decimate a hive in hours.

But honeybees aren’t defenseless against the so-called murder hornets, which are native to Asia but surfaced in the United States for the first time in 2019. The bees have their own survival strategies, including a unique and frenetic warning signal that triggers defensive moves, which has now been documented by scientists for the first time.

“I feel a visceral reaction when I hear them because it is clear that the bees are agitated,” said Heather Mattila, an associate professor at Wellesley College’s department of biological sciences, who was part of a team of scientists that identified the warning noise.

She described the warning signal, known as an…

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