I was in at the orchard all day yesterday pruning the apple trees. Quite a job considering there are over 200 trees! One of my jobs is to cut away diseased wood, primarily Canker. Canker is like cancer to trees and if you leave the infected wood, it will continue to spread throughout the healthy wood. So today I have blisters!
I noticed that wasps are now out in force. Time to put out the wasp traps! Wasps can and will rob honey from your hives but will also eat your bees. They have strong sharp mouth parts that can cut a bee in half. They carry this back to their nest and offer this to the wasp larva, who in turn secrete a sugar substance that the foragers are addicted to. It is this relationship that keeps wasps on the move, as they rely on this larva food secretion to survive. In the Autumn the queen wasp will stop laying and there are no wasp larva around to produce food for the foraging wasps. Hence they are desperate for food. It is this time of year when we begin to notice wasps, they are bolder and more aggressive looking for food.
If you sit outside for a few minutes enjoying your lunch, they will find you and try to rob whatever you are holding. At this time of year people get stung and mistaken the flying attacker for honeybees. Poor honeybees get a bad rap as a result. If you are stung by a flying insect the chances are it was a wasp.
A simple Eco-friendly wasp trap can be made by taking a large plastic water bottle, cut the top off at about 15 cm down from the top. Invert this upside down so the neck of the bottle is now inside the base. Staple the sides so its fixed in place. BINGO you have a wasp trap.
Now to lure the little robbers. Pour half a can of beer, a cup of water and 4 tbs of jam. Stir well. Your bait is ready. The nice thing is that there are no harsh chemicals used, safe for animals, humans and the environment. This bait will attract moths, flies and wasps-not bees. DO NOT USE HONEY.
You can staple a piece of round plastic over the gap at the top to stop rain water from getting in. I place these all over my apiary sites. Yesterday I made up 3 and by the time I left it had caught around 20! Remember if you catch a scout wasp, then you deduce the amount of wasp activity in your area. Once a scout finds you, your hives, your picnic, they will rush off and gather reinforcements. Hence you sit down quietly to enjoy your pub lunch and you notice one wasp. You fan it away and shortly there are two, then four, six…. Finally they win and you move!
photo copyright 2008 ©-The Hive Honey Shop