6.5 Pulping Wasps

Wasps may visit bee hives to exploit them as a source of wood.

Nest building wasps will exploit untreated wood which they then chew into a pulp and mix with their saliva to form what is basically a kind of papier mache. They use this papier mache to build their nests. Because wasps are efficient insects they will keep coming back to the same source of wood time and time again.

In nature this wood pulping activity by wasps is very important because it helps clear away fallen trees to make space for new plant growth. However, if wasps use bee hives for their source of wood then the damage can be extensive resulting in the loss of the hive or part of it.

Fortunately it is relatively easy to protect hives from pulping wasps by simply maintaining hives in good order so that the wood is properly sealed. This can be achieved using a good hard wearing exterior paint or varnish or by treating the wood with a suitable oil or wax. Solvent based wood preservers will also do the trick but care must be taken not to affect honey bees so treatment with wood preservers should only be undertaken when safe to do so.