Border Bees Diary

Diary of a Beekeeper in the Scottish Borders

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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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Birth of The Drones and Worker Bees

Posted by borderglider on May 13, 2008

May is the month when male drones start to emerge from the cells in which they have metamorphosed from fat white larvae into flying male bees. Note the size of the drone’s eyes in the photo below – each eye forms almost a hemisphere around the head – similar to a dragonfly. It is thought that the drone needs such amazing eyesight in order to find and mate with the Queen on her mating flight – which may happen several hundred feet in the air and up to three miles from the hive.

Male bees - drones emerging from their cells
Drones Emerging from their Cells

“Hello World! Why Am I Here? What Is My Purpose?”

Worker bee merging from its cell

A Worker Bee Cuts Her Way out of Her Cell

A young worker cuts her way from her cell to join her sisters in the duties of the hive. All of the capped cells around her contain young workers about to emerge after matamorphosis; these will probably emerge within the next 24 hours since this patch of eggs will all have been laid by the Queen at the same time – up to 2,000 a day at this time of year.

Posted in BEEKEEPING | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »