There are many ways by which living things defend themselves against predators. In the design of living things, predators and ways to defend against them are important. The existence of predators is necessary to prevent population explosions that would use up all of the food. A way of defending against predators is necessary to avoid the predator wiping out the species. This balance is critical in nature, and in many species the mechanisms have been designed in some incredible ways. Recently it has been discovered that a species of honeybee in China actually has a system that cooks its primary enemy.

There is a wasp in China named Vespa velutina that feeds on the larvae of China's honeybees known as Apis cerana. This wasp is huge with wingspans that can stretch over two inches, and the China honeybees are no match for it. The wasp is so large that the stingers of the honeybees cannot do it any serious damage. Researchers have found that the bees have a way of actually cooking the wasp to death instead. If a wasp enters the hive of the bees, the worker bees will engulf the wasp making a ball of worker bees. The temperature inside the ball will climb, so that within five minutes the temperature will reach 45 degrees Celsius. Experiments have shown that the wasp dies when the temperature reaches 45.7 degrees, so in just over five minutes the wasp is dead.

Researchers have subjected the worker bees to heat and have found that they can survive temperatures as high as 50.7 degrees. That means the bees have to know to mob the attacker wasp, stay on it until the temperature reaches 46 degrees, and then get off before the temperature reaches 50 degrees. Using thermal cameras and sophisticated thermal probes, scientists have been able to measure and document this incredible technique for survival. We have known for a long time that bees control temperatures in the hive even during winter, and that this is a survival skill designed into their genetic makeup. It turns out this technique has an even more sophisticated design to enable it to be used as a defensive weapon.

David described something like this in Psalm 118:12 in describing his enemies when he said, "They swarmed around me like bees--they attack me as fire attacks brushwood." We now know that the swarming of bees may have several purposes in enabling bees to survive as one of God's most useful creatures.

Data from Science News, September 24, 2005, page 197.

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