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Giant hornet no match for honeybees' heat

Friday - 3/16/2012, 10:27am  ET

bee375.jpg
The brains of honeybees, a study finds, allow them to create vibrations which generate enough heat to kill an intruder. (AP)

WASHINGTON - Giant hornets don't stand a chance against Japanese honeybees, which will literally cook the invader to death if provoked.

Researchers in Japan have found that an area of the honeybees' brains allows them to generate heat consistently. The bees then surround the intruding hornet, cooking and asphyxiating it.

Additionally, Dr. Masato Ono from Tamagawa University said the temperature must be specific -- high enough to kill the hornet, but not hot enough to kill the bee itself.

"The crucial function is to keep temperature inside the bee ball within the range of 46 to 48C, [like] a thermostat," Dr. Ono tells the BBC.

The BBC has video of this "killer ball."

Lacey Mason contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)