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.
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.