German Wasps – How to Keep them out of your bee hives

It’s the time of the year in the Waitakere Ranges that the common and German wasps are out and about looking for a free meal, if you don’t want that free meal to come from your beehive, read this article.

In the Waitakere ranges we do have issues with German or common wasps (Yellow jackets for our American readers). The German Wasp for our Latin readers is “Vespula Germanica”.

So how can you prevent the wasps getting into your hives?

Add a Robbing Screen

Well here is an idea that we discovered on the BK Corner podcast from Kevin Inglin (see you can learn things from podcasts).

German Wasp guard on Swanson 1

It involves making a German wasp Robbing Screen like below, which is pretty easy to make with three pieces of wood and some old mesh you have about.

What we have observed is that the German wasps keep hitting the mesh and get quickly discouraged and move onto easier targets. Probably your neighbours BBQ? Hee hee…

These guards seem to work very well, and it doesnโ€™t take long for the bees to work out the new method of getting in and out of their hive.

As well as German Wasps these also prevent other honey bees robbing your hives, which can be an issue at certain times of the year. Especially when nectar is hard to locate.

We now sell a Robbing Screen at kiwimana, which is a more advanced version of the basic Robbing Screen.

Reduce your entrances

Reduced Entrance to prevent German Wasps

The bees will thank you for this, reduce the entrance down to 50 mm by 10 mm high. The smaller entrance is much easier for the bees to defend from German wasps or other bees.

Be sure to make the reduced entrance near the centre, so the field bees can get the new supplies quickly to nurse bees in the centre frames.

Use Traps to capture scout wasps

Dead German Wasps in Trap

Well from an old western, Dead wasps tell no tales, so it stands to reason that if you manage to kill a scout German wasp before he gets back to his colony, you will reduce the chances of other wasps finding your hive.

We discovered this idea from the Internet, it was an idea we got from a video by ewetubesuxass. That works very well indeed, better than any other idea that we have tried. Believe me we have tried them all :-).

***Update Nov 2019***
Sorry the Video was removed by the owner from his YouTube Channel.

What will you need to make this Wasp Trap

You will require:-

  • An old soft drink bottle, The 1.5 or 2 litre ones are the best size.
  • 3/4 cup of Beer (You can drink the rest, when you are finished :D)
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 4 tablespoons of Fruit Jam.

The Process

  1. Cut the top of the old bottle.
  2. Mix the ingredients all together and place in the bottom of the bottle.
  3. Insert the top section into the bottom (small entrance first) and staple the cut off lid into the bottle.
  4. Place this under your hives, if you have them on stands or somewhere where wasps gather. You will need to make sure itโ€™s under cover, or it will fill with rain water.
  5. Once filled with wasps, you can clean it out and repeat.

Further Reading

You can read more about Vespula germanica or the German Wasp, on this Wikipedia article all about German Wasps

Your ideas about German Wasps

What do you do, please comment below and tell everyone your ideas on how you keep German wasps out of your hives. or do you love German Wasps and think this article is evil? ๐Ÿ˜€

12 thoughts on “German Wasps – How to Keep them out of your bee hives

  1. Avatar photo
    sue and pete says:

    Hi Gary

    last year we had a big wasp problem, I used 5 wasp traps and squash hundreds of wasps with a stick. The hive survived. Then in winter I went on a queen wasp hunt and squashed 3 hibernating queens, I found them in the old pine stumps just inside the bark. This year I have hardly seen any wasps at all ๐Ÿ™‚ I do like the look of the wasp guard in front of the hive, might give this a go if I need to again.

    • Avatar photo
      Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Sue and Pete,

      Thanks heaps for the feedback, great to hear that you haven’t had any issues with wasps this year.

      We have a few about this year, but not nearly as many as last year. I think the wet winter in the Waitakeres flooded all the nests.

      But it did surprise me that we still caught quite a number in the trap, I guess the bee hives are a good attractant to the wasps. This is where we put the traps.

      Yep the wasps guards are a great idea, I will be making some more this year. Because most of our hives have different bases, we need to make them to a custom size .

      See ya…Gary

  2. Avatar photo
    Caitlin says:

    Having a little bit of wasp trouble with our hive at the moment. Considering a wasp trap. Do the bees not get traped also though??

  3. Avatar photo
    Chris powell says:

    Hi gary
    Been having heaps of wasp trouble,imade 9 wasp traps from old drink bottles and have been catching about an inch and a half of wasps per bottle every 2 days.have tried baiting them with all sorts of stuff,jam ,beer , fish ,cordial etc but got some stuff called trappit at farmlands,its lethal on wasps but the bees dont go near it
    Walked along our creek last night and found 4 wasp nests ,the easiest way to sort them out is to wait till just before dark and pour a couple of literes of petrol in then kick a clod over the entrance .i dug them up today and there was no life in the nests at all
    2 of them were the size of a basketball and the other 2 were at least double that
    Enjoy your newsletter thanks
    Chris powell

    • Avatar photo
      Kevin O'Connor says:

      A couple of litres of petrol!! that is a bit extreme and not very environmentally friendly. Petrol is extremely volatile, meaning a litre of petrol will give around 150 litres of vapour, a 100 millilitres would be enough, making sure the entrance is covered.

  4. Avatar photo
    Sue Dick says:

    Hi Gary and Margaret,

    Your wasp trap recipe works a treat and last year I caught many many German Wasps in two traps – one under my TBH and the other just down the hill from the hive. I put a shelter over the top of the bottle to stop the rain getting in.

    This season a number of bees are finding their way into the wasp trap under the TBH. I am not sure why this is happening but it feels a bit distressing to find them amongst the drowned wasps.


  5. Avatar photo
    Melva Ward says:

    We close our entrances up as its cooler and the girls are not hanging out. I love to watch the wasps trying to get in and get bowled out by some very fierce girls. Have seen dead wasps in one of our hives. Hopefully that also indicates a strong hive. Sometimes I have the time to sit an swat the wasps, very satisfying.

  6. Avatar photo
    Paul says:

    Checked my hives after a long cold winter and it seems that wasps have moved into 2 of my hives and set up home!! What is the best way to get rid of them without destroying the hiveware?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *