Massacre in the hive: Amazing footage of 30 giant Japanese hornets slaughtering 30,000 tiny honeybees to eat their young
Tens of thousands are dead, hundreds more of the dying lie writhing on the battlefield, powerless to protect their children.
These horrifying and yet fascinating scenes are the highlights of a three-hour battle between just 30 giant Japanese hornets and 30,000 European honeybees.
The video, from a National Geographic documentary called Hornets From Hell, shows a full-scale attack on the honeybees' comb in order that the hornets can get at their larvae.
See the video below...
Fight! A poor honeybee (left) comes face to face with a giant Japanese hornet on the doorstep of its own hive in the prelude to a massacre
Slaughter: Thousands of honeybee corpses litter the ground beneath the hive as the hornets hover over the entrance to the hive to continue the killing
The mass slaughter is possible because the European honeybees did not grow up around the Japanese Hornets and thus have no defence against them.
Vespa velutina - the hornet's Latin name - is believed to have hit Europe in 2004 after hitching a ride to France on some pot plants transported from China.
In Asia, honeybees have learned to encircle an intruder and, by flapping their wings, cause it to overheat and die. But European bees have not had enough time to evolve an effective tactic.
The hornets begin their attack by hovering in front of a beehive, picking off single honeybees, decapitating them and stripping off their wings and legs before making off with the 'meat ball', taking it back to the nest to feed their young.
Adult hornets chew the flesh of their victims into a sticky liquid that it feeds to its offspring.
However, the hornets then step up their attack, emitting a chemical rallying cry that indicates that return flights to the nest must stop.
Natural selection: A hornet drags a honeybee larvae from the comb and eats it, turning the meat into a gooey paste which it can feed to its own offspring
Learn to share your food: After the massacre two exhausted and overheating hornets are seen sharing liquids to regain some energy
They they concentrate of the slaughter and with the honeybee stings simply not powerful enough to wound the hornets, up to 40 honeybees a minute can be killed.
After the massacre the hornets exchange liquids with each other to boost their energy.
They they fly unopposed into the comb to feed on the succulent and nutritious flesh of the gestating honeybee larvae.
The Japanese hornet is four times the size of our native honeybees and its sting has been compared to a hot nail being hammered into the body. They can fly up to 60 miles with a top speed of around 25 miles per hour.
Tim Lovett, of the British Beekeepers' Association, described it as 'an unpleasant little critter.'
The sting can be extremely painful to humans but, like bee stings, it is likely to kill only if the victim has a severe allergic reaction.
A more significant result of the hornet attacks is that the honeybee population plummets and, along with it, so does honey production.
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