Episode-216- Defend Honey Bee Colony From European Hornets


Vespa crabro better known as the European hornet is an additional menace for honey bees that I see hovering around my hives. They typically can be seen in my backyard in northern Virginia between the months of July and September. Today’s short video shows some of the steps I take to identify the presence or these hornets as well as the defensive and offensive measures in place to prevent them from doing harm to the hives. I also show a couple of small nests and the spray I use to safely eliminate them.

In the spring queens emerge from protected shelters and build outside ariel ones in which they lay eggs to produce male and female larvae. These offspring then mature and spend their time foraging and building new colonies and their presence becomes better known in mid summer. In the fall the makle and females mate and the famles progress on to next year’s queens right by finding good shelter.

The damage potential European hornets pose to honey bee  colonies can be devastating. They hover around hive entrances and stalk unexpecting bees or attempt entrance to cause mayhem. This is best portrayed in the link below to a popular online video depicting the destruction of a honey bee colony by just a few hornets. The species may be different than what’s in my backyard but the potential for similar results remains the same.

2013 represents my third year of beekeeping and only the second where hornets have been observed around the hives. I’m sure they were there during the first season but I don’t recall seeing any and I didn’t know at the time that they existed as a threat. Now that I have seen them my first task was to ensure the hives were able to defend themselves. This was done with the addition of robber screens or mouse guards. As you can see in the video the honey bees adapt to either defense measure pretty well and the hornets end up frustrated and harmless. However, there is still the threat of hornets eating honey bees that get caught in their ambushes. If the ambushes turn lucrative enough for the hornets then there is the additional threat of more hornets joining  in on the feast. This could easily devolve into a  brutal fight for survival if the determination of the hornets is strong enough.

It does not take much for me to make these observations and go on the offensive to eradicate these creatures. So my next step was to seek out their nests. I began by looking under the eaves of structures and sure enough found a couple small ones right above the shed entrance. To eliminate them I waited until midnight last night and mixed up a strong batch of Cyper WP and sprayed the small nets with enjoyment. I was careful take proper precautions by wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants. If these nests were bigger I would have been sure to also wear my bee veil. If you have to do this yourself follow along with the instructions in the link below fore eradicating hornet and wasp nests.

I am not an advocate for eliminating natural wildlife from my yard. I am sure that where there are the bees there are bee predators. Whether or not this the yin yang of nature I am only concerned about trying to keep the bees alive without too much interference. Since I cannot see a benefit to having hornets in my backyard and due to the threat they pose it cannot be expected that they should simply be ignored.


Song of the Day – The Grateful Dead – Jack Straw (Live in Paris 1972 Remastered Version) – Live Video from Oakland Stadium 07-24-87


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