Bee hives attacked by wasps

A wasp favourite - figwort

Why are wasps attacking your bee hive?

Diet change
Early in the year wasps collect meat and carrion, including dead bees, which they masticate and pass on to feed their larvae in the nest. The protein helps the new bodies grow and the larvae in turn excrete a sugary honeydew which satisfies the wasp’s sweet tooth. In late summer/early autumn, the larvae have hatched and the adult wasps have to seek their sugar fix elsewhere, gatecrashing picnics and making forays into beehives.

Site of hive
Rubbish Although it is unlikely, do check your bee hive isn’t situated near rubbish bins or other sources of abandoned sugary substances.
Fruit Are there any fruit trees nearby, as fruit rotting on the ground will attract wasps into the vicinity?
Aphids The honeydew from insects (usually aphids) on trees can also appeal to wasps.

Weak colony/nuc
If you can rule out the above, the most likely answer to why the wasps are attacking your bee hive is, unfortunately, that the colony is weak enough to make it worth their while. They try it on with most hives at some point but will persist in numbers if they have success.

Are you feeding sugar to your bees?
What may be attracting wasps is sugar syrup fed at this time of year. Your bees may be strong enough to fight them off but they will spend a lot of energy doing so.

What can you do?

Narrow the entrance
Try to spot the problem early. Watch the entrance especially towards the end of summer and narrow the entrance of the hive to make it easier for the bees to defend. They can manage with a very small opening but do allow enough room for them to remove any dead bees from the hive.

Feeding the bees
Think about the issue of routine autumn feeding – see Feeding sugar to honey bees

Future prevention
Some strains of honey bee are more docile than others. The benefit of you not being stung may not outweigh the benefits to the bees of being able to defend themselves.

Shortage of food elsewhere
A wasp favourite - figwortFeed the wasps! Like honey bees, wasps do feed on nectar. One of their favourite plant species is the figwort (common figwort Scrophuaria nodosa and water figwort S. auriculata). The inconspicuous figwort flowers from July to September. Whether providing nectar for wasps will keep them away from bee hives I don’t know but it would make a great experiment. To buy seed click here. When the ivy flow starts it will provide food for wasps as well as bees and the attacks should diminish.

Trap? Any good?          
Jam jars containing a sweet solution will definitely drown wasps. Whether or not this has any serious effect on the numbers is difficult to determine.

The Waspinator
The Waspinator is a pretend wasp’s nest purported to deter wasps from coming within range of it. Wasps defend the territory around their nest aggressively so they tend to avoid each other’s nests. Do it work? Seems so…

To buy the Waspinator click the ad

17 Responses to “Bee hives attacked by wasps”

  1. Jackie lambert on

    I witnessed a wasp attacking a solitary honey bee ,I’d never seen it before ..I don’t have bees ,just sat
    In a garden area and saw this battle.
    Hence I looked info up about this ..
    was the wasp out to
    Kill and digest bee or just get any pollen from it ?
    Anyway I rescued the little bee …
    Have wasps been around as long as bees ,as I guess this battle has gone on as long !
    I ve always tried to be positive about wasps and their uses … didn’t know they attacked bees !!!

  2. Paul Jones on

    very good, very useful makes a lot of sense. Made the entrance into holes didn’t. Deter the wasps but they can’t take dead bees back through it. Removed the rubbish bin and put out some Wasp traps hoping that we don’t attract too many bees!

  3. Nicholas on

    hybridising European bees with Japanese native bees might work at stopping wasp strikes as they seem to do quite well against Japanese giant hornets a EU queen with Japanese drones would work best from my research into the Africanised bee genetics they are more docile though than killer bees

  4. Jade Barrett on

    Hi There!

    I have just gone in to my hive and discovered a colony of wasps living in my hive alongside my bees. Is there anyway I can get rid of them, I’m concerned about my bees. Is it to cold now to get in to my hive and do something about it.

    Will the wasps have any affect on my bees or can I just leave it and keep an eye on them. Any response would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks


  5. admin on

    Tricky one. Wasps do die out before winter usually but they will be eating your bees honey and could survive. Was the colony weak already? I’m not sure what I would do, probably watch and learn.Who will win? Sorry that’s not more helpful, I’ve never met this situation before. Please do let me know what happens.

  6. Jen on

    my boyfriends bees swarmed late and now the bees he has left have NO honey when they had honey 2 weeks ago. the fall has started and now wasps are taking the eggs in the hive which there are plenty of but again No honey. what should we do? the hive was strong and had plenty of honey before the swarm now it seems we aren’t sure if the bees will make it through the winter. there is a queen but no food so we feed them sugar syrup.

  7. admin on

    Have you narrowed the entrance to allow them to try to defend it better? If they’ve swarmed are you sure the new queen has been mated and is laying? It doesn’t sound good I’m sorry to say.

  8. dianne on

    My son has a hive in my yard and it looks like wasps have taken it over. I don’t see any bees around at all. Is there any way I can get rid of the wasps without contaminating the hive with wasp spray?? I had been feeding the bees with sugar syrup.

  9. Toby on

    We have a flow hive and a traditional hive. The flow colony has been the strongest of the two, we also have a pretend wasp nest, yet today I looked in the inspection hatch of the flow hive and saw wasps inside the super. It’s too cold to open the hive, is there anyway to get he wasps out. I am amazed they have been able to get in and that they have survived as the colony has been aggressive and extremely strong.

    Will closing down the entrance stop them getting out and hopefully they’ll just die in the winter??

  10. admin on

    I think that’s the best you can do – hope your bees keep up the aggression to the wasps and get rid of them. Let us know how it goes…

  11. Tony on

    After they mate, the female lays round 3 eggs everyday for an additional six months.
    The unwelcome guests chew on a large vwriety of things
    including electrical wires. The hazards are plenty, peolle say, andd are aalso the chances of not carrying out a thorough job.

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