Wasps are notoriously aggressive insects when provoked; not only are humans the target, but bees have to be careful too.
Bees appear to be scarier than wasps due to their bigger size; therefore, we assume wasps are afraid of bees. In fact, the opposite is true. Why is this?
Wasps go hunting for meat and carrion to chew upon, before feeding it to the larvae in their nest. The protein allows for new bodies to grow, and the larvae produce a sugary honeydew which the wasps enjoy.
However, as the summer draws to a close and the Autumn sets in, wasps no longer have their source of sugary substance to feed upon; therefore, beehives become the target.
Alarmingly, some wasp species, such as the Bald-Faced Hornet, bite off the heads and abdomen of bees, taking the remains back to their nest to feed their larvae. Wasp larvae thrive upon meat, and in return, the wasps receive their sugary reward. It’s a system that must keep going for wasps to survive.
When the wasps’ food source becomes scarce, they begin targeting beehives where honey or protein (the brood) is abundant to feed upon. Wasps prefer weaker beehive colonies, as this takes much less effort to break into. But they will test the defences of larger hives if there are enough wasps to kill the bees to gain entry into the hive. After an attack, surviving bees often die from starvation as the wasps have taken all their food.
How To Protect Bees From Wasps
Beekeepers are particularly concerned with protecting beehives from wasps. Even people with a bees nest in their garden may simply want to protect the bees. Thankfully, there are several ways to help defend against wasps:
1) Ensure there aren’t any fruit trees in close proximity as wasps are attracted to sweet substances.
2) Ensure any rubbish bins are kept well away from the beehives.
3) A good tactic to deter wasps is to create a fake wasp nest, as wasps like to defend their territory and keep out of each others way. This can trick them into flying away or finding another area to colonise.
4) Create a narrow entrance to the beehive, but ensure there’s enough from for them to remove any dead bees. This makes it easier for bees to defend themselves.
If you suspect there is a wasp nest nearby, you should call a pest control expert to assess the situation and safely remove the nest.