If you’ve ever noticed a wasp attacking a bee, you may be wondering if it was after the honey or simply out for a kill – but do wasps kill bees or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Wasps do kill bees, but a strong hive can often defend itself against attack. Wasps are usually looking for honey- though they also eat other insects, including honeybees and their brood. There are things that beekeepers can do to protect their apiary- and the bees- from wasps including the placement of the hive and keeping the area around it clean.
Wondering why wasps kill bees? Keep reading to find out more!
Wasps and Bees
There are many similarities between wasps and bees, including that they are both great pollinators. Wasps and bees both forage for nectar- and wasps live in colonies with a queen present just like bees do.
Bees are somewhat bigger than ordinary wasps, and there are also other differences, including something wasps want what they do not have: honey.
If there is a way for them to get into the hive, they will, which is why it is imperative that you help maintain a strong hive. A weak hive can easily get wiped out when wasps attack.
When Wasps Attack
So, what is it that makes wasps attack bees? As mentioned, they are after the honey. They can smell it, they know it is there, and they want it to eat. They will also clean out the bee brood, wiping out future generations of bees in the colony. This is not only tragic- it could effectively end your beekeeping and apiary literally overnight.
Some other times when bees are under attack are:
- The Bald-Faced Hornet preys on honeybees, tearing off the bee’s head and feeding the thorax to their larvae.
- When the hive is weak, such as when there is no queen or few bees, it is more vulnerable to wasp attacks.
- The bigger threat of attacks on the hive is not just the bees that are killed, but by stripping the hive of honey, the wasps ensure that the surviving bees will starve and die sooner or later.
Since you can’t fly around behind your bees to protect them, take strides to strengthen the hive and help them better defend themselves against threats. Inspect your hives to ensure the bees have enough food and watch for signs of wasp nests in or near your apiary.
Tips to Protect the Bees
There are a few things that you, as a beekeeper, can do to help protect the bees and your honey from wasp attacks.
It is worth an ounce of prevention to avoid having your hive- or entire apiary- wiped out by swarms of wasps. Here is what you can do:
- Keep the area surrounding your hives as tidy and clean as possible. Get rid of trash or yard debris that could be appealing to wildlife.
- Make sure that everything you use for your bees and beekeeping is clean and free from honey residue that could attract wasps and other pests.
- Consider the placement of your hives. Make sure that there are no fruit trees in the vicinity as this attracts wasps.
- Try to narrow the entrance to the hive so that the bees are able to better defend against intruders or predators. There must be at least enough room for worker bees to remove any dead bees from the hive, as is needed, an approximately ¾” by ¾” entry should suffice.
Wasp and Bee FAQs
Why do wasps attack bees?
Wasps frequently attack beehives for the honey and the brood, both of which they will eat. A weak hive is more vulnerable to wasp attack, and even if the wasps don’t kill every bee in the hive, they will leave them without food to starve.
How do bees defend themselves from wasps?
A bee can best defend themselves from wasps by strengthening the hive and reducing the entry access that allows wasps to get in. Beekeepers can assist and help out their colonies by reducing the size of any openings to the hive.
Do wasps have queens like bees?
Wasps also have a queen and are part of a colony- just like bees. Wasps help to pollinate plants that allow food to grow. The life of a wasp is dependent on the queen.
Do wasps sting worse than bees?
There are factors that impact whether a bee or wasp will sting, including the species, the season, the weather, and more. For this reason, know that both wasps and bees have the propensity to deliver a painful sting when provoked.
How to survive a bee, hornet, or wasp attack?
If you are attacked by stinging insects, try to stay calm, remain still, and be quiet. By making a commotion, you can draw the attention of other bees or wasps that will come and attack. If you are under attack from a swarm, try to lie on the ground while covering as much of your body or skin as you can.
Do wasps eat bees?
Wasps eat bees, particularly the brood- or young bees. Wasps will also eat spiders, ants, beetles, flies- and many more insects. They also eat honey.
Who would have thought that wasps kill and eat bees? If you tend hives or an apiary, use tips and tricks to help protect your bees from wasps and put them in a better position to defend themselves against wasp attacks.