Bees are Good, but What About Wasps and Hornets?
Increasingly, people agree that bees are good for us and the environment and are indeed essential to our survival, but what about wasps and hornets, aren’t these useful too?
Hornets are large wasps and, like bees, wasps pollinate plants and flowers as they feed on nectar. If we were to eradicate wasps it would cause more problems than it would solve. So, wasps do serve a useful purpose and despite being an irritation at certain times of the year, they are an essential and beneficial insect.
Wasps are predatory insects and large numbers of workers are involved in providing protein for developing larvae in the nest over the summer. Insects are killed and collected by adult wasps and chewed up into small food packages. These food parcels are fed to young wasp larvae in the nest, which turn the prey exoskeletons (chitin) into a sugary droplets to feed back to the adult wasps. Towards the end of August, with no larvae to feed and raise, all the adult wasps must find other sources of sugar to sustain themselves, and this is why they are attracted to sugar-rich foods and drinks at our BBQs, picnic tables, and in our homes.
I’m glad that Sir David Attenborough is not responsible for the “fake news” advising us to leave containers of sugary water out to feed tired bees in hot weather. Bees are more than capable of looking after their own requirements. We need to improve the prospects for invertebrates in general by planting more pollen and nectar rich plants.
A hornet nest will contain around 300 individuals.
It has been estimated that social wasps kill around 14 million kilograms of insect prey in the UK each summer. A world without wasps would be a world with a very much larger number of insect in our homes, gardens, and on our crops.
It’s important to acknowledge that insects are generally having a hard time; changing environments, changing climate, habitat loss and the use of insecticides are all taking their toll on these vital creatures.