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That’s according to new research from the University of Guelph and published Wednesday in PLOS One.

The team of researchers found that bees in Vietnam collect animal droppings and place it around their nest entrances in an effort to protect them from incursions by fatal killer wasps.
				An Asian giant hornet with a tracking device is shown in the photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, near Blaine, Washington.  These hornets are known to attack and destroy honeycombs.
An Asian giant hornet with a tracking device is shown in the photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, near Blaine, Washington. These hornets are known to attack and destroy honeycombs. (Karla Salp / Washington Department of Agriculture via AP)

“Workers collected feces in our manure piles throughout the study; we also observed them searching for feces in a nearby chicken coop,” the researchers wrote, noting that worker bees sometimes used soap suds and, on one occasion, human urine. .

Using poop as a defense tactic

The team surveyed 72 beekeepers in late August, when killer wasp attacks are frequent. Of those beekeepers, five kept colonies of only Western bees, and those keepers did not see the mounds of poop in their hives, the study says.

Research has found that bees use poop, soap suds, and sometimes human urine to defend their hives. (Getty)

But of the remaining 67 beekeepers, who raised eastern bees, 63 of them reported spots on the front of their hives. Beekeepers averaged 15 colonies per keeper, and keepers reported seeing the poop spots in an average of 74 percent of their colonies. The poop mounds appeared after the killer wasp attacks, and the researchers determined they were a response to the attacks.

And it worked: The researchers found that colonies with a large to moderate amount of stool had a reduced chance of being attacked, the researchers said.

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“This study demonstrates a pretty remarkable trait that these bees have to fend off a really terrible predator,” said Heather Mattila, lead author of the study, in a statement.

North American honey bees don’t have the same defenses. This is the first research to report that these eastern bee workers seek out and use animal feces to defend themselves, and the team stated that there is no evidence that bees use poop for much else.

But western bees, those found in North America, are not as prepared for attacks by killer wasps as their counterparts in the east.

In this Oct. 7, 2020 photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device in place sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Washington.
In this Oct. 7, 2020 photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, a live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device in place sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Washington. (AP)

“They haven’t had a chance to develop defenses,” Mattila said.

“It’s like getting into a war cold.”

And killer hornets, native to Asia, have recently arrived in North America. Last month, entomologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture destroyed a killer wasp nest they had located in October and discovered about 200 queens inside, each capable of producing its own nests.

What makes killer hornets so dangerous is that, as their name suggests, they essentially kill the honey bees and their nests, wreaking havoc by killing the entire hive in just a few hours.

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Since honey bees, through pollination, play an important role in our environment and are already disappearing, killer wasps are especially dangerous.


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