It’s a hot mess.
A giant hornet feasting on honeybee larvae has nothing to fear from a honeybee’s stinger. That puny thing? Ain’t gonna pierce this rigid exoskeleton. But 500 angry bees—now that’s a problem.
When Japanese honeybees detect a hornet in their hive, they swarm around it by the hundreds. The collective vibration of their flight muscles makes it just hot enough (about 116 F) to be lethal for the hornet. Give it 30 to 6o minutes, and the hornet has been cooked to death.
You may start to feel sloth-like when the sun slips away during the winter months, but this little hornet actually derives energy (not just motivation) from sunlight, using its exoskeleton’s nanostructures and pigments.
Researchers first noticed something odd about the Oriental hornet in the early 1990s: Instead of being lazy-bums during the bright midday hours like other wasps, the Oriental hornet was extremely active.
Ishay found that shining light on the hornets—live, anesthetized or even dead—could produce voltage differences of several hundred millivolts across their hard exoskeletons, which suggested that the cuticle material making up the exoskeletons was effectively an organic semiconductor converting light into electricity. Indeed, Ishay even found that shining ultraviolet light on an anesthetized hornet would wake it up faster, as though the light were recharging the insect.