Bees sent to attack crows

Tokyo conservationists are using honeybees to fend off crows attacking vulnerable seabirds nesting near the international airport. The nonprofit Little Tern Project has installed hives of honeybees on the roof of the watertower where several thousand of the seabirds nest during migration. The bees came from the Ginza Bee Project, another nonprofit that teaches people about agriculture and beekeeping. From National Geographic:
"We spoke to an expert and learned that honeybees in the wild have the natural response of attacking a black object that comes near to their hive," (Ginza Bee Project chair Kazuo) Takayasu said.

"There have been tests with black and white balloons, and the bees always attack the black balloon."

It is believed that the bees' reaction is linked to the color of bears' fur. The insects apparently attack dark-colored creatures to protect their hives from plunder.

"We noticed that the bees swarmed around crows that were taking offerings from white plates left on the outdoor altar of a shrine in Ginza," Takayasu added.
Bees Enlisted to Attack Crows in Tokyo (National Geographic)


  1. “honeybees … have a natural response of attacking a black object that comes near to their hive”

    Hnybs ht blck ppl? Dmn tht’s rcst!
    ‘m nt t sprsd. ll f my dgs r bt rcst.

  2. This reminds me of the Simpsons:

    Homer: Bart, you’re coming home.

    Bart: I want to stay here with Mr. Burns.

    Burns: I suggest you leave immediately.

    Homer: Or what? You’ll release the dogs, or the bees, or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead—do your worst!

  3. I loved the outtake that showed Mr. Burns releasing the robotic killer Richard Simmons. Now *that* will solve your crow problem right there.

  4. This also explains why the bees so vigorously attacked Winnie the Pooh when he rolled in mud to try to disguise himself as “a small black rain cloud”.

  5. Man, if this were slashdot this would be tagged “whatcouldpossiblygowrong”

    @Takuan #7: it’s actually not that unusual for animals to show a racial preference. They spend a lot of time around white people, then non-white people will smell like “other”, and they will respond to that. I’ve had a racist dog too, he was always very unfriendly to black people even though he seemed to be ok around most other people.

  6. Bees rock. Aha! And here’s an opportunity for a small public service broadcast on behalf of the bees of the world :)

    One of our neighbour’s hives threw off a cast (a small swarm) whilst he was on holiday, a few weeks back. It dunked itself down on a garden recliner on our lawn. They’re a very unaggressive and benign species; I was able to get up to three or four feet away, lying prone on my front, shoot off some video and then retreat, without any protection apart from socks over trouserlegs, elastic bands around my sleeves, and a thick jumper, without getting stung at all. (They were mostly hanging from the seat of the recliner, a foot or so above the surface.) The sight of a solid mass of insects, ranging from a few inches in diameter to a few feet, is amazing. If you get the chance, take it!

    If you’re lucky enough to encounter a swarm (it’s the time of year in the N hemisphere), don’t panic – keep your distance and treat them with respect – call your local beekeeper’s association and they’ll be delighted to come and take them off your hands. If you do find yourself getting stung, especially if you’re nearby and unprotected, a swift retreat is a wise idea as the pheremones released will make others nearby more aggressive and likely to sting you. Where I live, the local council treat them as a pest and wade in with massive doses of chemical insecticides; a crime against nature IMHO.

  7. A government spokesman seemingly in a rush to get to the airport with his overstuffed bags, stopped to make a statement. “Eventually we will import mutant Australian cane toads to control the lions. Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” We were unable to verify his statement in as all other top government employees seem to have left Japan on early vacations.

  8. So, bees attack black things while being half black (black/yellow striped) themselves…

    Is anyone else reminded of conservative Christianity’s attempts to (further) disenfranchise homosexuals?

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