Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bees are herbivores, wasps are...

...not! They like a tasty chunk of meat. 

I found this Eastern Yellowjacket feasting on the corpse of a bee on the nailboard at the front of one of my hives:


Awesome, no? The lengths I go to in order to bring you great bug macros! When I took this shot, I was crouched down on the ground about ten inches from the hive entrance with bees flying over my head, the camera lens about two inches from the wasp.  I have no fear. Or maybe no common sense!

This bee had no head left on it and looked like it had been dead for awhile; the wasp was scavenging. What I find interesting about the above picture is that you can really see the glands on the belly through which the bees extrude wax. Here's a great pic of that happening.

I have nailboards (boards with nails sticking up from them, thanks to Gordon and his nail gun!) in front of each of my hives as a skunk deterrent. Supposedly skunks won't stand on the nailboard, thus preventing them from eating your bees. Skunks love tasty bugs and will tap on a hive at night , then wait for bees to come out to investigate. When my little honeybees emerge, the skunk chows down on them. More tapping, more snacking, until Skunky's tummy is full. 

You can lose a fair number of honeybees this way, and it make the hive VERY cranky. A poor unsuspecting beekeepers opens a hive the day after a skunk visitation and wham, sting-o-rama.

 I haven't had skunk issues yet, but not everyone thinks the nailboards work, so it may just be luck! Or maybe my skunks aren't as determined as some other skunks.


I know people hate wasps and hornets even more than they hate bees, but I find them utterly fascinating. I also know that, unlike honeybees, they can sting repeatedly and are aggressive, so I am careful when observing them. I think this worker wasp's yellow and black colouration is really stunning.

Enjoy the weekend!

Addendum: Hmmm... upon further reflection, I think that's a drone corpse, and they don't make wax. but the underbelly of a worker bees looks pretty similar, so you get the idea!

30 comments:

  1. What amazing pics! You managed to make a yellowjacket look almost cute, despite their mean and carnivorous ways. I didn't know they were hairy.

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    1. THe hairs are surprising, given how shiny they look without a macro!

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  2. Chilling!

    I'm amazed that skunks can eat honeybees without any ill effects. The stingers and venom don't affect them?

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    1. THey must become immune, the way my dogs have. My dogs both eat bees and wasps and must have been stung in the mouth a zillion times. They have no problems! I think that if you're not allergic, you can work up some tolerance to the venom. Apparently bees do taste a little sweet from the nectar they carry in their "honey stomach."

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  3. Another fascinating look into the world of bees!

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    1. THey are so interesting!

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  4. When I saw your post title I finished it as "bees are herbivores - wasps are... JERKFACES"
    Wasps and I have a very bad history!

    We've got a lot of hornets here. I was cooling down for a while and then it got warm and humid again - it's like they all woke up.

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    1. THey were all going crazy here Friday when it was so warm. And yes, definitely jerkfaces!

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  5. You find them fascinating and give us a great description with all the photos.

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    1. GLad you enjoy the pics and info, Red!

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  6. My husband is salivating over your macro lens. I showed him the gorgeous pics of the butterfly too. Fabulous!

    P.S. I'm going to look for some of that cut comb honey. Your description makes my mouth water and has put a bee in my bonnet. (pun intended ; )

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    1. Hubby should get one. It's mu favourite, hands down, and I just keep it on the camera now instead of my 50 mm!

      I should put in the caveat that the comb honey will only taste as good as the honey inside it, but if you can find yourself a local beekeeper, you should be in luck! I think this comb honey is my best honey this year, but that was partly luck because of what nectar the bees decided to put in that particular super!

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  7. Would it be appropriate to mention the duckling and the chicks now? ... just kind of missing them.... :)

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    1. You have a point there and I will make an effort to photograph them today! :)

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  8. From now on, can you just presume that my opening words are 'What fabulous photos'. Not so many Wasps this year, nor Hornets, nor our recent problem of Asian Hornets. I am NOT complaining.

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    1. Thank you CM!! And I guess all your rainy weather this summer had one benefit! I didn't realize Asian Hornets were becoming a problem there. They sound pretty scary.

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  9. Great photos but a bit scary.

    Hugs

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    1. Definitlely a face only a mother could love!!

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  10. PAWsome photos on the Hornet !
    My mommy saved a Hornet the other day that gotten inside on her job , she cought him/her in a jar and let him/her out.
    They are fasinating my mommy too :)

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    1. Yay to your mommy! THat's how I save them too. :)

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  11. Super, super pics of the wasp. So neat to be able to see it close-up without worrying about getting stung - us, that is, not you. I'm really enjoying your macro insects. Looking forward to more.

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    1. I don't know what I'm going to do this winter. Photograph houseflies? :)

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  12. Having a lovely catchup on your posts Natalie. Just loving all the great photographs and it was very interesting to see the pic of the bee extruding the wax......
    I'm not a fan of these wasps , but have to admit they are great pictures....

    Claire :}

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    1. I love their strong colours!

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  13. Excellent shots. Still you can'tblame the wasp for getting some grub where it can

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    1. Not at all! ANd in fact, she was doing clean-up duty here, flying off with the rest of the corpse!

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  14. What bravery and determination Natalie. Keep up the good work so that we can view in the safety of our homes!

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    1. Yesterday I was taking photos in a cloud of wasps and bees.... stay tuned!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!