Preventing Wasps in Beehive

by Jan Ray
(Fredericksburg, Texas)

I had a new colony of bees, went away for 5 days, came home to no bees and a wasp nest inside. What is a good way to prevent wasps from going in my hive?

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Jan,

Sorry you lost your bees. I hope you'll be able to replace them.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any way to prevent wasps from entering a hive. There's nothing you can do (so far as I know) to keep out wasps or to kill them that wouldn't also effect the bees.

My guess, though, is that the wasp nest you found in the hive had nothing to do with the demise of the hive. The wasps probably just took advantage of an ideal location for a nest after the bees were gone.

I've found wasp nests in abandoned/dead hives on several occasions. But I've never seen, or heard of, wasps building a nest inside an active honey bee colony.

Some wasp species are predators of honey bees. And some wasp species will sneak into hives to rob a bit of honey. But wasps don't generally do any great amount of harm to a bee colony - certainly not enough to do it in. That's my experience, anyway.

I've also checked my bee books, and don't find any mention of wasps being serious honey bee pests. If someone knows otherwise, or knows of a way to keep wasps from entering a hive, perhaps they'll use the comment form to let us know about it.

(As an aside, I did find an interesting reference to the defensive behavior bees sometimes use against individual wasps attempting to enter the hive. A number of bees will form a tight cluster around the wasp, preventing it from entering or leaving. They hold the wasp in the cluster until the temperature in the center of the cluster raises high enough to kill the wasp. The bees are able to survive the high temperature.)

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Jul 22, 2011
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Wasp and bees
by: Sue UK

Hi,

I live in the UK. Today I have witnessed wasps invade 2 of our hives. They have killed all the bees and robbed all the honey......there had been about 30 lbs per hive.

We had lots of wasp traps all round the hives and caught maybe 500 wasps but they just kept on coming!

Has anyone had a similar experience? Any ideas on how to stop it happening again?

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Hi Sue,

That's bad news!

I've never experienced anything like that myself, though one of my bee books mentions a species of hornet that's been known to kill entire honeybee colonies.

I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions for controlling the wasps. If you could manage to locate their nest and destroy it that might be your best hope.

Hopefully someone will have some other suggestions for you.

Good luck!

Sep 13, 2013
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Wasp invasion of hives
by: Ali

Again, I am in the uk and have had my hive mobbed by wasps. Cleared the honey and killed the bees, had a was trap up but made no difference. Have never seen so many wasps!

May 07, 2014
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Preventing wasps enteirng the hive
by: Anonymous

I live in Auckland, New Zealand and we have a problem with wasps invading hives in the autumn (big fat German wasps that are agressive).

They will invade a weak hive and rob out the honey. They seem to co-exist with the bees but of course, as the feed is robbed out the bee numbers dwindle. I'm not sure, but they also seem to clean out the brood.

Anyway, I have found all the recommended methods useless, in particular the entrance tunnel; that doesn't phase them at all. Even a small entrance will not deter wasps if the bees have lost the "fight".

I discovered a method by accident two seasons ago when I thought I had lost a queen and combined that hive with another, thinking I was introducing the bees in the weak hive to the strong hive and they would all merge and become one.

In the spring I found the Queen was still there and laying up a storm.

So, now I put a weak hive that is letting wasps in, behind the defences of a strong hive that is repelling them. This assumes you have more than one hive (and I recommend this so you can absorb losses).

So, identify which hives are repelling wasps at the entrance, put a queen excluder on top then put the weak hive on top of that (using whatever combining method you prefer; newspaper or air freshener etc to stop the bees fighting).

Once they get used to each other, the colonies will happily co-exist in the same hive, coming and going through the one entrance (which is well defended by the stronger hive). In the spring you can split the hives again.

If it is done early autumn it might pay to check in a few weeks to make sure the queen excluder hasn't become clogged with dying drones. If done in late autumn/early winter the drones will be mostly gone.


I've used this for two seasons, it works every time. I have just re-combined my 4 hives down to 2. I checked today (3 days later) and the wasps have pretty much gone and are hardly bothering the strong hives.

The strong hives have good numbers outside the entrance and they grab any intruding wasps and "escort them off the premises without ceremony".

There also seem to be less wasps in the apiary. I think a weak hive attracts the wasps and with that gone, there are less around.

I would add that our conditions are fairly mild in winter (in Auckland). We only get a few mild frosts in winter and certainly no snow. Wasps are introduced European species and they are a problem in autumn (and into the winter if the conditions are very mild). My method might not apply in the US or elsewhere with different conditions.


Give it a try and post your comments.

Bruce
Auckland
NZ

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