Are ‘Asian Murder Hornets’ a threat to the Ohio Valley? Beekeeper buzzes in

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What's the buzz surrounding these scary bee-killers?

WEST LIBERTY, W.VA. (WTRF) — If 2020 couldn’t get any worse, there’s been a lot of buzz around the nation about Asian Killer Hornets invading our land.

One beekeeper says while posing a huge threat to honey bees, there shouldn’t *bee this much hype surrounding the scary insect. ​

This invasive bug, if taking root in America, could wipe out honeybee hives in a matter of 90-minutes. But the beekeeper at Windswept Farms says he’s not scared for his bees *just yet.​

Our honeybee has no defense over this big giant hornet. There’s nothing our honeybees can do. They can try to sting but they have a hard, outside shell called an exoskeleton. ​   ​

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

Two inches long, huge chompers, a shield-like shell, and not to mention the potent sting.  ​ You would pick this creature for a horror movie. But should we *bee afraid? ​   ​

To be honest with you it’s a little bit of sensationalism.”​   ​

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

The beekeeper tells me only two have been found in Washington State and that was in 2019. East of the Mississippi, we haven’t seen any. ​ ​

Even though they haven’t seen a lot of the hornets, they have seen some damage that could be caused by the hornets. We don’t know for sure.

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

The Asian hornet buries underground and has proven to weather through winter just fine, unlike his cohort the African Hornet that invaded our shores a couple of years back. ​

This is unfortunate news. ​ But there is hope. Asian honey bees have already adapted ways to battling these carnivorous insects, balling together with one common cause.

A ball of bees surround the hornet, and they’ll wiggle, wiggle, wiggle and raise their temperature to ​ the point of above 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The Asian Hornet cannot live at that temperature. And in addition to them pouring in a bunch of carbon dioxide, they actually suffocate the bee and kill it by heat.

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

Take that murder hornet! ​

And while it has a mean sting, the beekeeper says statistically more people die from honeybees each year. With 50 deaths in Japan from the nasty hornets, versus annual 100 deaths from honeybees in the U.S. ​ However, they’re being watched.

We put trackers on the backs of these hornets, and the trackers are like little GPSs. They can follow them back to the hive, and destroy the hive when they go back to the hive.

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

It’s invasive, which means it has no enemies known to kill it, leaving bees defenseless. ​ So, humans must do their part. But that doesn’t mean killing anything that stings. ​ ​

Bees and hornets in general are scary to people. The important thing to do is if someone happens to see this, just take a picture. Don’t go out and squash it.

John Welty, Beekeeper with Windswept Farms, West Liberty, W.Va.​

But while not concerned right now, the bee expert tells 7NEWS he and other keepers are on the lookout. ​ And you can help too. If you see a huge hornet that looks out-of-the-ordinary, take a picture and send it to your local entomologist. ​ Most likely it will be a common species. And if not, well… we have a problem on our hands.​

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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