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Wasps do more than interrupt picnics

Many of you may have noticed the increase in wasp activity. This is because the wasp population has grown in parallel to our honeybee populations. Unlike our fellow honeybees, wasps are carnivorous. They consume all types of insects ranging from: catepillars, beetles, flies, and yes honeybees. And although they seem like pests at our picnic tables, wasp do serve a purpose. They are our natural pest controls. Since they are carnivorous, they keep in check those unwanted pests found in our vegetation. In addition, wasps also play a small role in pollination.

This increase in wasp activity not only occurs at our BBQ’s but also at our honeybee hives. One of the ways to help our colony is to reduce the entrances. By reducing the entrance, we give our guard bees less surface area to defend, creating a stronger barricade against wasps. The entrance of a Langstroth hive is quite wide. We can reduce this entrance by blocking off a few inches on either side of the landing pad. If your hive is sitting on a screened bottom board, you may want to consider taking out the board and exposing the entire screened surface. This way you provide plenty of ventilation and can therefore reduce the entrance an extra few inches.

 What you want to keep in mind is reducing the entrance but maintaining air flow during the July and August heat. As the season progresses, continue to monitor the situation. If you notice an increase number of wasps attempting to enter your hive, you may want to consider relocating your colony. Hives that tend to be bombarded by wasps are usually small in population size, weak with possible disease or just plainly in the wrong location with several wasp nests right next door. By monitoring the situation, you can decide how best to protect your hive from wasp devastation. And if a diseased colony is to blame, I would suggest doing an inspection and treating appropriately.

Rachel Halliwell