German Wasps – How to Keep them out of your bee hives

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It’s the time of the year in the Waitakere Ranges that the common and German wasps are out and about looking for a free meal, if you don’t want that free meal to come from your beehive, read this article.

In the Waitakere ranges we do have issues with German wasps or common wasps (Yellow jackets for our American readers). So how can you prevent the wasps getting into your hives?

Add a Robbing Screen

Well here is an idea that we discovered on the BK Corner podcast from Kevin Inglin (see you can learn things from podcasts).

German Wasp guard on Swanson 1

It involves making a German wasp Robbing Screen like below, which is pretty easy to make with three pieces of wood and some old mesh you have about.

What we have observed is that the German wasps keep hitting the mesh and get quickly discouraged and move onto easier targets. Probably your neighbours BBQ? Hee hee…

These guards seem to work very well, and it doesn’t take long for the bees to work out the new method of getting in and out of their hive.

As well as German Wasps these also prevent other honey bees robbing your hives, which can be an issue at certain times of the year. Especially when nectar is hard to locate.

We are going to look at using a magnet to hold the guard onto the kiwimana Meshboards, as they sometimes fall off in high winds.

Reduce your entrances

Reduced Entrance to prevent German Wasps

The bees will thank you for this, reduce the entrance down to 50 mm by 10 mm high. The smaller entrance is much easier for the bees to defend from German wasps or other bees.

Be sure to make the reduced entrance near the centre, so the field bees can get the new supplies quickly to nurse bees in the centre frames.

Use Traps to capture scout wasps

Dead German Wasps in Trap

Well from an old western, Dead wasps tell no tales, so it stands to reason that if you manage to kill a scout German wasp before he gets back to his colony, you will reduce the chances of other wasps finding your hive.

We discovered this idea from the Internet, it was an idea we got from a video by ewetubesuxass. That works very well indeed, better than any other idea that we have tried. Believe me we have tried them all :).

Here is the video if you want to watch it:-

What will you need to make this Wasp Trap

    You will require:-

  • An old soft drink bottle, The 1.5 or 2 litre ones are the best size.
  • 3/4 cup of Beer (You can drink the rest, when you are finished :D)
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 4 tablespoons of Fruit Jam.

The Process

    1. Cut the top of the old bottle.
    2. Mix the ingredients all together and place in the bottom of the bottle.
    3. Insert the top section into the bottom (small entrance first) and staple the cut off lid into the bottle.
    4. Place this under your hives, if you have them on stands or somewhere where wasps gather. You will need to make sure it’s under cover, or it will fill with rain water.
    5. Once filled with wasps, you can clean it out and repeat.
Step One - Cut the top of the old bottle

Step One – Cut the top of the old bottle

Step 2 - Mixing The Beer and Water

Step 2 – Mixing The Beer and Water

Put Top of bottle into bottom

Step Three – Put Top of bottle into bottom

Step 4 - Place Wasp Trap under hive

Step 4 – Place Wasp Trap under hive

Further Reading

You can read more about Vespula germanica or the German Wasp, on this Wikipedia article all about German Wasps

Your ideas about German Wasps

What do you do, please comment below and tell everyone your ideas on how you keep German wasps out of your hives. or do you love German Wasps and think this article is evil? :D

Our Robbing Screen * Update Mar 2014

We have started selling Robbing Screens which work great with German Wasps and Honey Bees, If you would you like to buy one, Here is the product page:-

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About Gary Fawcett

Gary enjoys designing new kiwimana products which we sell through our on-line shop. He is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping. Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment. He is also into tramping/walking in the beautiful New Zealand bush.

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3 Responses to German Wasps – How to Keep them out of your bee hives

  1. sue and pete says:

    Hi Gary

    last year we had a big wasp problem, I used 5 wasp traps and squash hundreds of wasps with a stick. The hive survived. Then in winter I went on a queen wasp hunt and squashed 3 hibernating queens, I found them in the old pine stumps just inside the bark. This year I have hardly seen any wasps at all :) I do like the look of the wasp guard in front of the hive, might give this a go if I need to again.

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Sue and Pete,

      Thanks heaps for the feedback, great to hear that you haven’t had any issues with wasps this year.

      We have a few about this year, but not nearly as many as last year. I think the wet winter in the Waitakeres flooded all the nests.

      But it did surprise me that we still caught quite a number in the trap, I guess the bee hives are a good attractant to the wasps. This is where we put the traps.

      Yep the wasps guards are a great idea, I will be making some more this year. Because most of our hives have different bases, we need to make them to a custom size .

      See ya…Gary

  2. Caitlin says:

    Having a little bit of wasp trouble with our hive at the moment. Considering a wasp trap. Do the bees not get traped also though??

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