It was with horror when I checked my hives and found wasps freely going in and out. On inspection of the frames the queen is present but no brood. Has anyone got advice how to deal with this problem
Sometimes reducing entrance to small (2”) will hive your girls a better chance at defending the hive.
As for non-laying Queen … hmm … you have no eggs, larva or capped brood cells. Has she up to this point ?! How old is your hive/colony ?! Are the workers storing pollen n nectar ?! Several good clean pix’s would be helpful. One of your setup n some of the frames (full size n close-up) so we can kind of inspect. Are you sure you actually have a queen ?!
Pop us another post with the help/pix’s. Do you have more than one hive ?
Shut the entrance down to one bee, feed the hive and move it away.
You might of course have a failing hive which the wasps are taking advantage of but if you move it away at least you will find out
I can’t agree more. I did a cut-out earlier this week. I netted 66 kilos of honey from it. The hive was between two studs & more in places. It extended from the top plate of the frame to the bottom plate. All the bees had for an entrance was about 5 bee size holes between the brickwork & the window frame.
Yep, we get obsessed with a large entrance to “help” the bees. All my hives ony have a 10x1cm entrance and the girls can certainly look after themselves very well with the small entrance. Never be afraid to reduce the size if the hive has any problems.
Oh @Lavenderpatch, how sad for you!
I suspect that a wasp nest is nearby and has found your hive. Unfortunately for us as beekeepers, once they do that, the wasps mark the hive with “hunt here” pheromones. They will come in and steal honey, bees etc, until the hive is empty.
For a solution, I agree with all of the other comments, but I have some additional ideas.
- Move the hive as others already mentioned, and reduce the entrance to around 1 cm wide.
- If you have any fresh bottom boards and brood boxes, switch them for the wasp-attacked ones. That will reduce the pheromone and together with the new location, it will make it harder for the wasps to find your bees.
- If the colony is very depleted, consider merging it with a stronger colony.
- If it is still worth saving, but weak, consider donating frames of food and brood from a stronger hive, if you have that option.
- See if you can hunt down the wasp nest. They are often not that far away (50 to 200 feet) if you are seeing large numbers. Some people use traps, but I would do the unthinkable and probably just poison them if they were attacking my bees. If you do it in the evening (in a bee suit), when the bees are not flying, it shouldn’t hurt your hive. Most wasp killing products are a liquid stream rather than an aerosol, and they don’t spread far. It is good to do it before autumn, when they are likely to become more of a pest to your home and neighbours.
I totally understand if you don’t want to do number 5, but the other steps should help. I really hope you can save the hive.
Thank you everyone for all the ideas, I have taken the following steps.
I reduced the size of the entrance was amazing to watch when a wasp came
near it was like the army attacked it.
I have put two traps near the hives,
As my hives are fairly new and trying to get established I have no supers
To one of the replys re my queen yes she is definitely there I purchased a
mated queen in November and she still has a yellow dot on her head. The
second hive I could not see the queen however that is not to say she’s not
there and I will check again when I get on top of this wasp attack.
There is not great numbers of wasps but certainly a few to get my bees and
I all buzzed up.
Really appreciate all the help it’s great
A poison-free method that I have used successfully for paper-wasps/yellowjackets is to first locate the nest; if it is within ladder range: prepare a cotton pillowcase with a drawstring, and fill a white bucket with soapy water. Then, after dark (when all wasps are home in the nest), climb the ladder, slip the pillowcase around the nest, cinch it up tight, and then drown the wasps in a bucket of soapy water. Sink it with a stone and leave for 72 hours.
I learned this method the summer I rode shotgun with Jerry the BeeGuy in Seattle. http://www.jerrythebeeguy.com/
- the only thing I can say from living in Tasmania is that the nests can be huge. In New Zealand apparently they can be even bigger…
…apparently they found one near Auckland that was 3.75 meters tall and 1.7 metres wide. That was the actual nest size.
For that size I would suggest using a King-size pillow case I have seen videos of some of those monster nests: yikes!
My method is for the vespids that die off in winter (except for the queens) so they could never reach that enormous size.
If you find the nest a cupful of petrol at night is a faff free way…just don’t light it
I’ve also found that you can screen the entrance making wasp entry less likely by leaning a piece of perspex up against the hive box, in front of the entrance at 45° angle. The wasps want to enter from above, straight in, and don’t learn to go around it like the bees do. You can use metal mesh gutter guard in the same way
uI’ve dealt with yellowjackets here in the NorrhEast USA and you can find some of my past experiences in other posts on the site. All the suggestions are great - to elaborate:
A robbing screen will help slow them down but without numbers to defend it will still be tough going but everything helps
Sacrifice a frame in the old box. The suggestion to relocate not only the hive but into a new box is right - however, leave the old box in place with a frame. I found this helps distract them and they focus all efforts on it until it’s cleaned out, and of course feel free to trap them inside. I saved a bunch of hives this way
If you are able pick up any dead bees as the wasps feast in these too. Also keep in mind any dead wasps will attract more wasps as well.
Vigilance. Next year set wasp traps in the spring to get he queens and you will see your wasps disappear. At one point I was hunting them at the hive entrance with one of those big zappers shaped like a tennis racket
- Is a good point. You don’t have to sacrifice a frame though. A saucer of syrup is just fine. The idea is that wasps robbing out one hive with bees in it then go onto the next colony. Leaving them an empty hive apart from their sweet treat is supposed to help prevent it.
Squashing wasps on a hive is a bad thing to do as the dead wasp just attracts more
- I completely disagree with. Wasps are important pest control in their own right and become a nuisance only when their nest matures and there are no larvae to feed the foraging wasps. Annihilation of queens in the spring to protect the odd nuc colony is pointless.
A strong colony copes adequately with wasp attack particularly with a significantly reduced entrance. It is usually only the weak colonies that are targeted. Being a beekeeper doesn’t mean we should be destroying everything that competes with our bees.
Hey Dee, where I live we have plenty of Yellow Jacket hives. The way you responded implies I am advocating an extermination program, which is really taking my statement and turning it from a micro-management tactic into a conservation issue. The Yellow Jackets live side by side with the bees most of the year without issue, however, if you are in an area like myself that is literally infested with Wasp nests, making an attempt to reduce the immediate area, like a 100 ft perimeter, seems a bit more practical than throwing petrol on a hive - but to each his her own. I used organic peppermint soap in a ground hive once with good results. I should have been more clear about the range.
To your point, this year the hives were strong and the Yellow Jackets were not an issue, but as we know that’s not always the case.
As for sacrificing the frame - it’s more just leaving one they have ravaged already behind - not sacrificing bees.
I’m sorry you found my post aggressive. It was not meant to be.
I realise you weren’t talking about a frame of bees. I was simply suggesting an alternative.
There are posts on the UK fora every year about setting up wasp traps in the spring. So much so that joe public does it to “save the bees”
I too live in an area where there are thousands of nests. As you rightly infer, wasps are territorial and hunt in a relatively small circle around their home so removing nests in the apiary vicinity can be useful. However if you have a nest very near your bees it’s equally useful to leave it alone for that very same reason
Not a problem Dee, my fault for not being specific enough. I continually forget to be extra clear in these forums as everyone’s experiences are different.
You need to make a tunnel entrance just one bee space. Easy to defend.
If you have low efficiency traps like the ones hanging in front of your hives you must make sure they never get full. Wasps escape them and recruit their mates. If they become full the recruits move on to the hives