Saturday, April 14, 2007

Asian Hornets Theaten Honey Bees in France

Asian Hornets a New Menace in France
Paul Lauener and Marie-Laure Combes, Associated Press, 4/13/2007

Ambushing locals as they return home from work, foreign invaders are dismembering French natives and feeding them to their young.

This horror scenario is playing out in France's beehives, where an ultra-aggressive species of Asian hornets who likely migrated in pottery shipped from China may be threatening French honey production.

The hornets are thought to have reached France in 2004 after stowing away on a cargo boat, said Claire Villemant, a lecturer at Paris' Natural History Museum.

She said a France-based bonsai merchant traveled to the Yunnan province of southern China to buy ceramic pots for his trees.

"He saw the hornets in that region," she said. When he saw them again, they were buzzing around his property in the southwestern French village of Tonneins.

Since then, they hornets have been establishing themselves in their adopted country, concentrating mostly on building imposing nests…

The honeybees are beginning to mount a counteroffensive…They gather around an invading hornet, flap their wings to increase the temperature and effectively roast it.

Beekeepers also are fighting back they can change the size of the entrances to the hives so the smaller bees can get in but not the hornets…

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