Farmers Turn to Hornet-Eating Plant to Save the Bees
Elliotte Rusty Harold / Shutterstock
Bee-eating Asian hornets have ravaged French honey production, but farmers are now finding an ally in a carnivorous plant that feasts on the hornets themselves.
The hornets, which have come to be known in France as “the hornets from hell,” have been destroying the bee population, whose numbers are already in global decline. Their role as pollinators is vital to the health of more than 100 plants, including avocados, tomatoes, and peppers.
In France, where the hornets are believed to have arrived in a 2004 pottery shipment from China, honey production has fallen so low that the country has begun importing the product. The hornets have already reached Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, and the British government has warned local beekeepers that the U.K. might be next.
The recent revelation, therefore, that the North American Sarracenia is capable of attracting and eating the hornets has been a godsend. The discovery was made by the head of a French botanical garden who opened the leaves of a plant to find a partially digested Asian hornet.
Beekeepers in Europe have been advised to begin planting Sarracenia around their beehives. Meanwhile, one French university is developing a commercial trap that uses pheromones released by the plant.