6.4 Queen Wasps

Queen wasps will frequently visit bee hives to find a place to hibernate. Queen wasps on their own represent no threat to bee hives and because wasps are an essential insect it is recommended that no further action be taken and that queen wasps be allowed to hibernate within bee hives.

It is important to remember that it is only nuisance worker wasps that represent a threat to bee hives. Killing hibernating queens will have little if any impact on the number of nuisance wasps that will visit a hive during the following summer/autumn simply because there will be other queen wasps hibernating elsewhere.

Only about 3 queen wasps survive for every 1,500 that are produced each year. An average wasp nest will eradicate between 4 and 5 metric tonnes of insect pests per annum. Unnecessarily killing hibernating queen wasps will result in more harmful pests surviving during the following season. Arguably this drives the use of more pesticides which is clearly detrimental to the environment and potentially to honey bees.

Bearing in mind that it is only nuisance worker wasps that are a threat to bee hives and these can be successfully and effectively managed through integrated wasp management and the use of WaspBane traps, then it makes ecological sense to allow queen wasps hibernating in bee hives to survive.