Stopping Murder Hornets with Architecture – Apidaetopia
During the past decade, there has been an assault on the honey bee population throughout the world. According to the research completed for Min Tian’s “Apidaetopia” 2012 Innovative Minds competition project, honey bees have been pressured by internal and external stressors. Recently, in North America, there is a new predator on the loose hunting honey bees.
The predators are called “murder hornets,” they are a species of Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). The insects are particularly large at 1.5-2″ inches according to Washington State University’s Department of Entomology. In the summer months, the hornets invade honey bee hives and decapitate the adult honey bees. Then they steal larvae and pupae and return to their own hive.
The reason why this is so troubling is that the honey bee population plays a critical role in our biosphere. They pollinate 80% of the world’s flowering plants. This activity is critical for human agriculture to function properly. Therefore, if the honey bee population dwindles too far there will be significant economic and environmental impacts.
Urban architecture as a solution to stop the “murder hornets”
The “Apidaetopia” project proposes creating urban sanctuaries for honey bees. Urban bee keeping has been on the rise in recent years. But, one of the problems is a lack of flowering plants in urban areas. “Apidaetopia” proposes a framework built around existing urban infrastructure to create habitats for flowering plants and honey bees.
Urban beekeeping and habitat building offer a safer and more controlled environment for honey bees. If “Apidaetopia” is implemented murder hornet invaders could be tracked down and removed in necessary. Tracing the hornets back to their own hive could be easier than in the wild landscapes of North America.
Tian’s notion of co-evolution in urban centers between bees and humans sets up a series of vested interests. Humans will rely on urban bees to pollinate other crops and flowering plants. The pollination cycle is important for urban farms etc. The bees then rely on humans for protection against the murder hornets and maintaining the infrastructure to hold their hives.
Defending bees from the “murder hornets”
Establishing a defensive system to protect the honey bees is essential as a first phase of implementation. There needs to be a tracking system to monitor the activity and health of active hives within the “Apidaetopia” system.
If “murder hornets” do start an invasion of the urban habitats then a defensive response needs to be triggered. Capture and fit the “murder hornets” with tracking beacons. Then release the “murder hornet” with tracking to reveal the location of the hive. Exterminators could then remove the hornet colony.
This process would take a significant investment within urban centers to establish and maintain. The planet is undergoing major changes due to climate change and other factors. The urban habitats associated with honey bees could help offset these changes over time. Therefore, humans could start to rely more on locally produced honey and agriculture instead of products sourced from far away locations.
Next steps to protect honey bees and building urban habitats
It is difficult to allocate public domain for urban environmental habitats. Strategies for stopping murder hornets with architecture need to be shared with leaders. There is a multitude of grassroots strategies for promoting habitats.
- Write local government officials to promote zoning for habitat
- Encourage local businesses through incentives
- Promote economic benefits of urban beekeeping and infrastructure
- Partner with non-profits and for-profit companies to encourage beekeeping
- Explore educational programs for urban growing and beekeeping.
- Monitor spread of “murder hornet” colonies
- Grassroots tech initiatives for tracking devices
- Raise awareness through social media and blogging