Do You Know the Role of Japanese Giant Hornets?

Japanese honey bees

Honey made in Japan is expensive, but most of them are made by European honey bees. Honey made by Japanese honey bees in Japan is so valuable. I’ve never eaten that, of course. Japanese honey bees are slightly smaller than European honey bees, and accordingly, their ability to collect nectar is lower. More time is required for the harvest, which diversifies the sort of honey ingredients (flowers), ages honey, and consequently makes the taste richer. Another reason why it’s more costly is Japanese honey bees don’t stick to their hive, while European honey bees do. No matter how much beekeepers take care of their hive, they sometimes abandon it. Funnily enough, this is one of the reasons why they can survive in Japan.

Bees VS hornets

The king of insects in Japan is Japanese giant hornets. They are 40 to 50 mm in size, at the top of the food chain, and even kill some people every year. Especially for river fishermen like me, the giant hornets are seriously annoying. If hearing their heavy buzz sound, we have no other choice but to run, leaving behind even good fishing spots.

We have more than 10 species of hornets in Japan. The giant hornets aggressively attack and kill all the other hornets, let alone bees. They are the main reason why European honey bees can’t take root in Japan. The brave bees fight to the end, and the giant hornets kill them off. On the other hand, Japanese honey bees are the only one who can fight back and kill the giant hornets. The Japanese honey bees throw themselves on a hornet, form a bee ball centered at it, and kill it by heat. When many hornets come, they give up their hive and run without hesitation.

A traditiona Japanese classy restaurant. A woman is at the bar counter, and a sushi chef is working over the counter.
Runt Om Chair by CondeHouse

Hornets, as the guards of nature

I’ve given up many good fishing spots so far because of the giant hornets, been dreaming of a world without them, and found it even in Japan: Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture. Is it a paradise? Maybe, not really. European honey bees occupy many holes on trees and drive small animals away. There are a greater number of other smaller hornets due to the absence of the top predators. They invade human living areas and attack people more than the giant hornets. Some wasps damage trees by depositing their eggs, which could be a threat to us, wooden furniture manufacturers. It may be said that the Japanese giant hornets are guards to keep the good order of nature.

Photo Credit:

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.