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Mesmerizing Footage Shows Honey Bees “Shimmering” Together As Defensive Tactic

Images show the progression of honey bees "shimmering." The darker lines represent the movement of a wave, or ripple across the surface of the nest.

There are about 20,000 different types of bees. They are divided into families, with honey bees making up a portion of the population. All bees are herbivores that get nutrition from flowers, in the form of pollen and nectar. Giant honey bees are classified as very dangerous due to their aggressive, defensive nature. Their stingers can measure as long as three millimeters or about one-eighth of an inch. One of giant honey bees’ primary defensive tactics is “shimmering.”

While this type of bee will attack in numbers to take down a large predator, only a few of the attacking bees will sting. They die after stinging an animal and use this tactic to preserve their numbers. The non-stinging bees will fly around the predator, making a loud buzzing noise. If a predator nears their nesting site, the giant honey bees will create a shimmering display of waves.

This beautiful display happens when the bees raise their abdomens in a wave. Similar to a sports stadium wave, this creates a rippling movement, or shimmer, across the surface of the nesting area. Shimmering may deter threats such as wasps, small animals, and birds. When a guard bee initiates a wave, the action causes the release of Nasanov pheromone. The chemical pheromone works to keep the bees together as a unit. As the wave ripples across the surface of the nest, it creates a beautiful sight. It is impossible to show the progression of a shimmer in a still image, but the action creates a brief, dark ripple.

Image shows giant honey bees "shimmering" which creates a ripple effect across the surface of their nest to deter predators.
Image from X.

Giant honey bees have open nests, meaning they congregate in trees, near buildings, and open areas rather than within a hive. Please use caution if you see one in person.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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