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Wasps – Do They Make Honey, What Do They Eat, and More

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Do Wasps Pollinate?

Some people may think that since wasps are not bees, that they do not pollinate. Other people may think that they function just like bees and pollinate and make honey, but are just a lot meaner and aggressive.

The truth is somewhere in between – wasps are pollinators but not like bees. They do transfer pollen from flower to flower and other plants and, do contribute to the pollination as a whole. Since wasps, too, feed on the nectar of flowers pollen tends to stick to them and fall on other plants. There is a species called “pollen wasps” which have the exact ecological role as bees and pollinate a large number of plants.

But where they really make a difference and are an integral part of the pollination process is with figs and orchids. There are around a hundred species of orchids that rely mostly on wasps to pollinate them. If male wasps extinct or cease to live near these species of orchids, the orchids will go extinct.

Do Wasps Make Honey?

No. Even though they drink nectar they do not make honey out of it but use it to feed their young. They use nectar for energy boost more than for anything else. They prefer to eat smaller insects.

figwasp and figs facts

What Do Wasps Eat?

Depending on the type of wasp, their diet preferences vary from tiny insects to flower nectar. Some species feed their young with insects but the adults can survive well on nectar and fruit juices.

However, some types of wasps are very strict in their diet and will only consume other insects.

For example the most famous ones – yellowjackets, European hornet, spider wasp, paper wasp, etc. feed on insects and the adults may sometimes feed on fruit juices while hunting for insects to feed their larvae.

The yellowjacket does not stick to a particular diet as much and can be seen scavenging for food in garbage cans, around animal or insect carcasses, picnics, and this makes it a nuisance to people.

Other wasps will not turn to flowers for food. They are strictly predators and do not feed on small insects only but will even sting and paralyse bigger insects and cut them up to feed themselves and their larvae.

What do wasps eat:
  • Fruit juices and fruits
  • Honey
  • Nectar
  • Other plants
  • Other insects

Wasps Life Cycle

The larvae prepare themselves to transform into adult wasps by first spinning a silk cap over themselves. While in this state, the adult wasp continues to feed the larvae until they are ready to emerge as wasps.

When they do, in a couple of weeks, the wasps that are born are mainly female workers. Some of the female workers may lay eggs from which only male wasps will be born and proceed with the building of the nest.

With the growing amount of wasps, grows the size of the nest as well. The wasps work together to make it big enough for all of the adult wasps and the eggs that will turn into wasps as well. This makes removing a wasp nest extremely hard and dangerous and even professional exterminators need to be extremely careful and very well prepared when doing so.

How Many Wasps in a Nest

Wasp nests vary in sizes. There are always exceptions of course. The average number for a wasp nest is around 6000 individual wasps. But there can also be as few as 1000 or as much as 10 000 individuals in one nest.

When and Where Do Wasps Nest

The building of the nest begins in the early spring when the hibernating queen wakes up. She begins building the nest with pieces of untreated wood she finds or strips from fences, she makes it into a paste and builds the nest.

The paste with which the nest is built depends on the number of wasps that help the queen build it and on the food. If there’s a scarcity of food in the spring or summer, fewer wasps will survive to build the nest.

How Wasp Nests are Made

The queen will make the stalk from which the nest hangs first, and add six or seven hexagonal cells. Her work is done and in each of the cells, she lays her eggs.

After the eggs are hatched, they go through all stages before turning into adult wasps. The newly emerged adult wasps are workers who carry on with the building of the nest. From then on the job falls on the wasps to construct the entire nest and the queen’s job is to control them and to lay more eggs.

What Is a Wasp Nest Made From?

The material used in building a wasp nest is dead wood. The wasps stole the wood material from fences. wood panels, sheds, garden furniture even. The wasps collect the wood and bring it back to the nest where the wasp larvae chew the wood and turn it into a paste which is used by the adult wasps to construct the nest.

The formed paste contains a small amount of wax which is why the nest is waterproof and strong. The nest grows with the number of wasps being born and working on the nest. That’s why the number of wasps may vary between 1000 and 6000.

Invasive-Species-Insects-Nest-Nature-Asian-Hornet

Which Wasps Are Most Aggressive?

The German/European Wasp, hornets and the Yellow Jacket are considered to be more aggressive than other wasp species and bees. This is true if we compare them to the thousands of other wasp species that, as we said earlier, are solitary and stay out of people’s way.

But the truth is that the aggressiveness of wasps is by the large part determined in the nest by the queen wasp. The queen emits a special pheromone that signals the entire nest of workers if there is danger and is and how aggressive they should be. But be sure that if you approach a wasp nest trying to remove it, you will most likely anger the wasps and suffer painful consequences.

When Are Wasps Most Active?

Like many flying insects, the wasps too are the most active during the day and dormant at night. When flowers are blossoming and insects are active and out and about, and wasps can find food for their babies and themselves.

How Wasps Communicate?

Through their sense of smell, wasps can communicate with each other a number of situations. They release pheromones that mean different things. They can tell other wasps about impending danger, they can signal each other where there’s food, they attract mates this way.

They Leave a Trail
By leaving pheromones around they can mark their territories and tell other wasps where they can find food. They mark objects the same way. The parasitic types of wasps use the same method to mark the hosts (other insect species) in which they have laid their eggs so other wasps know.

Set the Alarm
By releasing the pheromone wasps warn each other of danger coming closer. They are incredibly protective of their nest and do not wait for you to start meddling with their nest before they attack. As soon as a wasp senses a large predator nearby it alarms the others of a danger.

The wasps do not sting you once and die but will sting you many times. After stinging you the pheromone is released again and the entire nest population can swarm against you to defend the nest.

Searching for Mates
The entire ritual of attracting mates is initiated by the male and he releases the pheromones telling female wasps about his location, himself and his virility.

The different female wasps are attracted to different pheromone chemicals and the one wasp that likes what the male emits will seek him out to mate. how wasps survive winter

Unfortunately, they don’t survive the winter.

Most wasp colonies do not survive because in the winter there is no food for them. No flower juices, no pollen, no other insects to feed on. There is only one individual that can survive through hibernating and that’s the pregnant queen of the nest. And even then not all queens can survive the harsh conditions.

Where Do Wasps Live in the Winter?

Queens hibernate in sheltered places and a variety of crevices, but spiders use the same hiding places in the winter and if they find a dormant queen – they kill it. Out of 4500 queens born in one year, at the end of the winter about two of them survive.

wasp during winter time fact

What is the Purpose of Wasps?

Natural Pest Controllers
Sounds weird? It’s not. Wasps feed on small insects and parasites and kill a large number of different species in order to feed themselves and their young larvae.

Wasps play an important role in controlling the insect population on the planet. Without wasps, the world would be swamped by insects in disastrous proportions. This would also cause less biodiversity in the world of insects. Currently, there is an abundance of insect species roaming the planet.

So having wasps near your home is not as bad as it may seem. Thanks to the wasps you may be saved by other bigger and scarier problem with insects.

Some wasps are parasitic and tend to use living hosts to lay their eggs in. Most often it is caterpillars or spiders, and when the eggs hatch into larvae, the larvae start feeding on the host from the inside out.

Pollinators
They may not be doing it on purpose or have it as a life goal to pollinate flowers and other plants, but they do. Just like any insect that feeds on flower nectar and juices, wasps too, transfer some of the pollen from one plant to another, thus pollinating them.

We need as many pollinators as we can get. Wasps are aslo helping fruits and vegetables.

Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Wasps Bees
Wasps can sting you multiple times. The honeybee will only sting
you once and then die.
Wasps’ nature is more aggressive
and would attack before you do.
Bees attack only if disturbed.
Wasps do not produce honey. Bees are hairier than wasps.
Wasp legs hang while flying. Bees legs are hidden while
flying.

How Do Wasps Get Into the House?

Wasps get inside of your home or office through open windows, open doors, cracks in the roof, sometimes you can bring them inside yourself with the washed clothes if you hand out the clothes outside, or if a wasp has landed on you or your bag when you are entering your home.

There are many ways it can get inside the house. The problem is serious if wasps start building a nest near your house.

You can prevent the wasps getting inside by closing all openings on the roof or other crevices and by adding nets to the doors and windows.

How to Remove Wasp Nests?

This is an extremely dangerous task, especially for allergic people. If you are not sure whether you are allergic or not – do not attempt a DIY nest removal before consulting with a doctor.

It is strongly recommended that you leave such a task to a professional. But if you are set on doing it on your own make sure you find and put on all of the protective clothing and masks, and to plan a route to escape if things go wrong and wasps attack you.

Essential oils and sweetened water are also said to help with wasp infestations. Some of the most known DIY methods for dealing with wasps and removing their nests are to smoke them out or to use water and soap. However, all methods need to be undertaken by someone who has experience and IS NOT ALLERGIC to wasps.

There are other DIY methods for dealing with a wasp nest, none of which are recommended by specialists.

There are many things to consider if dealing with wasps and one can never be too sure they have made everything right. If you are allergic, hire experienced exterminators to do the job. Wasps are not easy to get rid of.

Getting Rid of Wasps

Why do wasps build nests near your home? The simple answer is because there is food nearby. Some of the things that wasps are attracted to are: human food in trash cans, plants in your garden, the insects in your garden, still water source.

What you can do to help your situation instead of trying to remove the nest on your own and risk your life, you can undertake some preventive measures to keep wasps away.

How To Keep Wasps Away

  • Remove still water.
  • Keep your trash cans closed tightly so wasps cannot smell the food.
  • Buy decoys for the wasps. Some species of wasps are territorial and if they see a nest they will not create another one in close proximity.
  • Build plants in your garden that repel wasps. If you don’t have a garden and live in a flat, you can plant them in pots and place them near windows. Such plants are thyme citronella, eucalyptus, spearmint and more. They are natural wasp repellents.
  • Fix all crevices- on the roof, on walls, near windows or doors.

Who Removes Wasp Nests?

There are over 9 000 species of wasps in the UK and over 250 species have stingers. Most of them are solitary wasps and will not meddle in human life but nine of the species are enough to be all over the UK causing problems to humans.

Nine of the species are social wasps and build large nests, unfortunately, many times near your home, office building or at a park.

The Common wasp is found throughout the UK inhabiting not only woodlands but also urban areas. They can reach up to 17mm and is in the iconic for wasps black and yellow stripes.

A nest can have thousands of wasps inhabiting it, depending on its size. However, it is extremely dangerous to attempt to remove a wasp nest on your own without protection or some kind of pesticide. If your home is infested with wasps or they have built a nest near it you should seek professional nest and wasps removal service.

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