Border Bees Diary

Diary of a Beekeeper in the Scottish Borders

Wasp Attack on Bee Colony

Posted by borderglider on August 13, 2008

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I had a small tragedy this week when a newly created hive of bees was overwhelmed by a wasp attack:every single bee was killed, all the eggs and larvae were eaten and all the honey was stolen by the wasps. The hive had been created as a nucleus with a couple of thousand young bees – which were given a queen-cell. All went well and I was pleased to find the new queen had mated and produced two sizeable patches of brood.

I saw the hive last weekend and all was well – though there were some wasps around. When I went to inspect this weekend I found a large pile of dead bees on the mesh floor – no living bees in the hive at all. There were a few dead wasps as well. The most striking thing was the hundreds of bee-wings scattered on the varroa inspection tray – and on closer examination I could see legs, heads, thoraxes by the hundreds.

Bee colony massacred by wasps
wasps and bees lie among hundreds of dis-membered bee wings

I did not realise that wasps physically dis-member bees – biting off wings, legs and heads; possibly they do this to carry away the bee’s abdomens which they may use to feed their own larvae. Wasps are predators of other insects and feed their own young on insect prey. In return their own larvae excrete a sugar-rich fluid which the adult wasps feed on.

Wasps and bees lie among hundreds of dis-membered bee wings
Wasps and bees lie among hundreds of dis-membered bee wings

DIY WASP TRAPS
I made 6 new wasp traps today and placed them in a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around the hives; there were dozens of wasps inside the traps within 15 minutes – so the local wasp population is evidently really high this year.
I have created a web page showing how to make wasp traps out of 2 litre plastic milk containers – at zero cost in less than 5 minutes. To download the design for the wasp trap please click below:
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3 Responses to “Wasp Attack on Bee Colony”

  1. boz said

    thank you so much for this info–we live in utah and just lost a hive to yellow jackets, we are very sad and will try the traps you describe. could we have done anything to sto the attgack as we saw it going on for two days, other than traps? someone said to put wet sheets over the hive for a day…..

  2. Thank you for the tutorial on how to make the wasp trap. I’m sorry to hear that this has happened to you this happened to me a while back and never really found out what had happened and just guessed that it wouldn’t happen again. Thank you once again.

  3. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t talk about these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!

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