In the hive, bees may not hear their own screams over the noise made by the deadly intruders.

Bees do not scream with their mouths; they scream with their bodies. When giant hornets threaten their colony. Asian honeybees cock their abdomens into the air and run while vibrating their wings.

The noise can sound eerily like human scream. In a new paper, researchers describe the honeybee's acoustic signal, called antipredator pipe, referring to its colloquially as a '' bee scream.''

The bees make this sound when their nests are threatened by the Vespa soror hornet, which hunts in packs and can destroy a beehive in a matter of hours.  

{ Above, Vespa soror hornets preying on Asian honeybee broods.}

Heather Matilla, a behavioral ecologist in Massachusetts and an author on the study, first heard the bee scream in Vietnam in 2013.

She was studying how Asian honeybees smear animal dung around their nests to ward off V. soror and Vespa mandarinia, better known as the murder hornet.

Dr. Matttila noticed that the hives exploded in sound V. soror hornets drew near. When she struck a recorder at the entrance of a hive fringed by hornets, she heard a cacophony of noise.

While she recognised some sounds bees are known to make - hisses, beeps and pipes - Dr. Matilla had never heard anything as loud and frenzied as this. Recorders were placed inside hives and video cameras outside the entrances to record the honeybee soundscapes.

The whirring, helicopter sounds of the hornets aften drowned out the bess.

[ Sabrina Imbler ]


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