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wasps again?

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New Bee

Joined: 22 Oct 2019
Posts: 2
Location: United States

PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:41 am    Post subject: wasps again? Reply with quote

wasps have killed my one or two hives each fall for 4 years. This year I saw them, closed the hole on my top bar hive and checked in two weeks to see if the bees might win this time. Instead, I opened the top and found no honey, no bees! Past years I saw that I lost the hive but still had a lot of honey. What do you think happened that the combs were emptied. Rolling Eyes
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome

Sorry to hear that you have lost so many colonies to wasps. Usually it is weak colonies which succumb to wasps and or/other bees robbing them. I get the impression your hives are not located at your home address. Having them where you can observe them on a daily basis will give you much more chance of helping them if/when there is a problem. Once wasps start getting into the hive, reducing the entrance is generally not enough to stop the rot as the colony have usually already been overrun and have given up trying to protect their stores.
You also often find that there is a small hole somewhere else other than the entrance where the wasps are getting in so that even if you completely block the entrance they can still rob it out. Observing the whole hive closely, you will see where wasps are coming and going. Usually it is due to panels warping or shrinking and a slight gap opening up. Obviously, blocking the entrance completely is detrimental to the bees, so should only be done for a couple of days and syrup provided during that time. It is not clear from your post whether you just reduced the entrance or completely closed it.

If you only visit your bees once a week or once a fortnight, the wasps can have overrun them by the time you become aware of the problem. If you keep them at home and watch them every day, you will usually see the wasps loitering around the entrance looking to get in and bees tussling with them and you have more chance of taking action before it is too late. Similarly, come swarming season, you will have more chance of knowing what is going on if you can observe them every day. You also learn a lot just from watching the entrance for 10 to 15mins each day.
The stores will all be gone because they have been robbed out. It would be more surprising if there were stores left once you have seen wasps getting into the hive because that will usually continue until there is nothing left.

If wasps are a regular problem then fitting a periscope entrance may help the bees to defend their hive better.
I hope that gives you some food for thought moving forward.

Best wishes

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New Bee

Joined: 22 Oct 2019
Posts: 2
Location: United States

PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for more knowledge on this. I will be able to do some things better. Last year I got 3 gallons of honey from two hives but the bees were gone. Those two hives were half a box of workers each and each with a queen. Both were near my gardens. I just caught it earlier. Must have another entrance as you suggested. I thought both hives were vigorous at mid summer. My gardens got pollinated well so this wasn't total failure. Thanks again!
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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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