The long, hard winter seems to have had a real impact on this years wasp numbers which seem to be far fewer than last year. Still, I’ve seen a few in and around the Fleet training apiary as well as my own colonies and so its time to act!
It only takes one wasp scout to get into a honeybee colony and back to its own nest to alert the others and within minutes there is a real scrap as the wasps try to get past the guard bees at the hive entrance to rob the colony of stored honey, larvae, eggs and eventually even the bees. themselves.
Over the years, I’ve probably lost more colonies to wasp attack than any other single cause and so I’m very alert to their presence and although I can’t stop them attacking the colonies, I can help the bees to protect their colonies more effectively themselves.
To do this with my poly hives, I make sure the yellow plastic entrance reducers are in place and then cut off a Langstroth frame bottom bar and insert it into the hive entrance, holding it in place with the frame reducer pinning it down. I leave an entrance space of about 2 inches (or 5cm) which makes it much easier for the guard bees to check everyone coming in and to keep marauding wasps, hornets and other robber colonies at bay. The bees will propolis the bar in place within a couple of days sealing up any drafts.
This process is very simple to do, takes about a minute and yet will ensure that your colonies (especially any weaker ones) are able to resist any attackers and hold onto their stores for the rest of the year and into the next spring. I strongly urge all our members to put on their entrance reducers now, before its too late…