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Yellow Jacket Wasps around my hives

A few days ago I removed a tray from under a hive and found one dead yellow jacket wasp on it. Today I looked at another hive and saw around 15 dead bees near the front- some drones- others workers- and a yellow jacket wasp struggling with a bee. The wasp flew off carrying the bee. Should I be concerned? I have read they are a problem at this time of the year (late autumn).

One thing- I say yellow jacket- but cannot be entirely sure that’s what it was- do we have them in South Australia? It could have been a European wasp- but from looking at photos I think it was a Yellow Jacket. In body shape it was more like a bee- the same size- and not as thin as a European wasp…

I just put on a reducer just in case:

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I think you won’t have a problem now you have the reducer on if they are European Wasps. In Tasmania we have plenty of European Wasps -I understand it was the first place in Australia to get them actually. They probably spread from here to the rest of the country. I’ve reduced my entrances to help stop them too. If you see heaps of wasps, there is probably a nest nearby which it might be possible to locate and kill. A nest was recently found in Tassie a metre across. Winters here normally kill the nests but I have a couple of times come across huge “hibernating” queens in cold months under timber cladding etc. If it is a yellow jacket it could be a different story- don’t know about them, but that reducer is pretty good.

I tried to identify it by looking here- https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/european-wasp-identification-guide

But I can’t tell- it could be European or it could be that very similar native wasp… wish I hadn’t lost the dead one I found…

Some of the dead bees I saw had been dismembered- can wasps do that?

Definitely yes. Famous for it. They take off the head and limbs and carry the abdomen back to their nest.

I’d say chances are that they are European Wasps.

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They take the thorax for protein for their larvae. The abdomen, they snack on the contained honey themselves.

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OK- so I went to my hive today and I saw more dead bees near the front- and some bees half alive on the ground… then I saw a wasp back hunting… I killed it :stuck_out_tongue: and was able to positively identify it as a European Wasp. Nasty little beast:

The bees I saw struggling on the ground- is it likely they have been stung by the wasp? Do bees recover from a wasp sting?

Other than reducing the entrance is there anything else I can do?

Traps with vinegar and honey? I am worried there is a large colony nearby and they have targeted my hives for robbing.

Edit: Again I couldn’t wait- I put out a trap with a little vinegar and cat food mush. Looking in front of the hive there are more dead and dying bees. Also the hive has become more defensive with guard bees buzzing at my face. The dying bees are just moving slowly on the ground- they appear to be in good condition and not all old worn out bees. Is this the result of wasp stings?? Maybe something else is going on.

Very likely. Wasps do sting their prey to subdue them. Not sure about the recovery part, but I would think it unlikely.

Jack-if you are seeing a lot of wasps, see what you can do to look at neighbouring properties. If there is a nest nearby you might find one that way. My neighbour had one years ago in a pile of garden waste - I had to look a bit for it, and then I offered to kill it for him - went over after dark and it was easy. My children were stung on the face 20+ times when they were playing in a park with friends years ago after running near a nest -so with their multiple sting capabilities they are formidable.

My neighborhood is too fenced off and diverse for me to be able to track them down I think. I’d love to do them in if I could find their nest. I have a lot a paper wasps in my yard- got stung a few times when I disturb their little nests gardening (lots more painful than a bee sting) but as long as they leave the bees alone I can live with them. Hurt my bees and I hurt you!

I’ll see if my trap catches any to try and get an idea of the scale of the attacks.

I’m not advocating the traps particularly but click on the beekeepers link here. There is some good tactical advice

We have European wasps here in areas but if you see one you have to report it and the ag dept will come out and trap them for you. :slightly_smiling_face:
Are European wasps yellow jackets?

We have V vulgaris and V germanica here in the uk amongst lots of others. Yellowjackets if you like but we just call them wasps

We just destroyed a huge wasp nest at our place in Willunga, SA last week. Hubby knocked over a big dead stump with a mini loader and unearthed a huge nest. The nest was at least 60 cm (2 feet) long and buried under the stump.

Here is the photo afterwards…there were no survivors…


I watched a video this week of a beek in Australia baiting and kill wasps that had knocked over a heap of his Nucs. Was a step by step really. I’m sorry I can’t remember more than that but would be worth finding.

Those yellowjackets can decimate your hive if it is weak and they get in. They are relentless!

We lost two Carniolan hives last year due to an extended warm season, as usually the wasps die out in the fall and only the queen winters over, but that has changed for us in the last few years and these guys get super aggressive instead of dwindling.

If you can find their nest, you can (in the dead of night) capture it in a pillow case, tie it off, and then submerge it in soapy water for several days. Grisly, but non-toxic. The vacumn (shown in my link) was a satisfying endeavor, but did not solve the problem :grimacing:

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There are always some of these around my hives. They fly around out the front looking for dead bees, weak bees, drones. I only ever see one or two at a time, and all my hives are strong. I’ll keep an eye on them though and see if I can see otl out where they live…

That is usually their m.o. here too, and with a strong hive not a problem. Today I watched a worker bee “ride” a drone out of the hive and off the landing board, and then another two feet away before giving it up to cruising yellowjackets.

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Yes, these are European wasps, they are like the terrorists of the insect kingdom. Spring is coming to Australia again, and with it there are many new sightings of wasp nests around gardens and homes. Their nests are usually hidden well near roofs, in tall trees, and sometimes even in holes under the ground. If you see one European wasp, you can be certain that there are more and the nest is somewhere around you, because they are social wasps and their habit is to build as big nests as possible.

We recently found a huge wasp nest in our garden shed when we started preparing the garden, and there was even some movement, which means that there is a queen and things will get worse during summer. So, please be careful everyone, this season is going to be active. We did some research and we found a nice guide on how to remove a wasp nest - https://fantasticpestscontrol.com.au/blog/fantastic-guide-to-wasp-nests/ , but from the looks of it it’s still a very risky job and you have to act during the night, when they sleep and don’t pay much attention to you.

So, be vigilant people, wasp season is here all over again, and European wasps are the big bad.