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Making a beeline for lunch

Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words could have been thinking of this one. You can see the glee in the wasp’s eyes as she makes a beeline for the all-you-can eat cafeteria.

Michael Skeels, a regular reader and frequent contributor to this site, lives in Montana and owns the hive on the left. His daughter Emily was visiting and shot the picture.

Michael says, “My hives are all strong and healthy so the yellowjackets and bald-faced hornets have only been a nuisance so far. I plan on making a trap like the one you described as soon as I come up with a plastic jug.”

That’s good news. If a colony is strong and populous, it can usually fend off the intruders who are then left to pick up carcasses from the ground to feed their young. This particular wasp is likely to be disappointed once she learns she will get nothing but leftovers.

I so enjoyed this photo I wanted you to see it. Thanks to both Emily and Michael for sharing the precious moment.

Honey Bee Suite

If she can find her way in, this wasp will try to find fresh bee meat for her offspring. If not, she will likely settle for something already dead from the ground beneath the hive.
If she can find her way in, this wasp will try to find fresh bee meat for her offspring. If not, she will likely settle for something already dead from the ground beneath the hive. © Emily Skeels.



I inspected one of my beeyards today, 4 hives, and I was astonished at the sheer number of yellowjackets, and how swiftly they showed up. I haven’t seen so many in the last two years (when I started beekeeping), but it fits with your earlier post about wasp populations being elevated this year. I haven’t noticed the reduction in solitary bee populations that you described, though, quite the opposite.

All of the hives in that location are quite strong so I suspect they’re not in any danger but I’m still leaning towards setting up some traps. I can’t decide between the brown sugar trap you described and the fipronil baited cat food traps mentioned elsewhere. Maybe I’ll try both and see what I get, though I lean towards the non-pesticide options normally.


Incredible picture. I don’t like yellowjackets, but I keep looking at the pic as it’s an amazing photograph.


I agree!


We are blessed with extremely low wasp and hornet populations this year, maybe due to an extremely cold (-10sC) last Feb. and Mar. There have been “beastly” years. One year was so bad I collected all the deceased trapped wasps and filled a five gallon bucket with the corpses. Trapping should begin early in the season and the addition of a bit of liquid soap to the sugar solution makes it more difficult for the insects to get out of the solution hastening their demise. Traps where the wasps have to enter from the bottom (fly upward) seems to keep the bees safe. Entrance traps work and even a queen excluder placed in from of the entrance will deter the wasps while allowing the bees in and out.

Tom Morrow

The dark sugar bait in gallon jugs is trapping many wasps. Tonight my 2-day-old coke bottle trap had 5 or 6 European wasps in it. Followed Rusty’s directions on the syrup mix. I am seeing the large wasps in great numbers in our yard but they are more interested in the dark sugar than in my bees. Bought another 15 pounds of dark sugar.



Great news! I’m glad to hear the traps are working for you.

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