How to Protect Your Mason Bee House from Asian Giant Hornets

How to Protect Your Mason Bee House from Asian Giant Hornets

A recent story by the New York Times has gone viral as it raises concerns over the sightings of the Asian giant hornet in Washington State.

We have received many questions about the impacts of the newly arrived hornet for both solitary and social bees. This blog post will answer common questions and give some tips about what you can do in your yards to protect your bees.

We understand the fear that “murder hornet” can create but we have some good news. First, the WSDA is working hard on a plan to monitor and reduce any Asian giant hornet nests found in Washington State. Second, although the Asian giant hornet attacks honey beehives, the world is home to more than 21,000 bee species of which 4,000 species live in North America. The WSDA is teaming with honey beekeepers to monitor and protect their hives and we continue to advocate for awareness of our local native bee species and ways to support and protect them. Currently, the chances are extremely low that the general public will encounter an Asian giant hornet.

Will the Asian giant hornets eat my mason and leafcutter bees?

These giant hornets are known to attack and feed on social insect nests, like honey bee and bumblebee colonies. Since the Asian giant hornets have only recently been sighted, there is a lot of uncertainty about the hornets’ predatory behavior here on solitary bees in North America.

While the hornet’s effect on native and solitary bee species is unpredictable there are some steps that we can take to protect the bee species that our customers are raising. Some of these steps are already used to protect mason and leafcutter bees from existing pests and predators.

Protect bees from giant hornet

How to Protect Your Mason Bee House from Asian Giant Hornets

Install a Bird Guard on Your Bee House

Our Bird Guard is a wire mesh with ¾” wide openings that are large enough to let mason and leafcutter bees into your bee house. The wire mesh keeps birds out and it could also deter the hornets from feeding on your bees as they return home. The Bird Guard is designed to fit on our Native Bee Station, Chalet, and Tower bee houses. Ensure that your Bird Guard is installed without being flush against the nesting holes to allow your mason and leafcutter bees the landing space they need.

Set Up a Fake Wasp Nest

Social wasps like hornets and paper wasps are territorial in nature and each spring the new queen looks for a nesting spot. Social wasps do not want to compete with another nest. You can set up a fake wasp nest like the one in our blog and this is a natural and chemical-free way to deter wasps near our homes. Although Asian giant hornets nest underground, some sources say that they build paper nests and this step is a good precautionary measure.

For Washington State Residents

The WSDA has created an Asian giant hornet trap program that is available only to Washington state residents who are able to commit to monitoring the trap once per week for a minimum of 17 weeks. The optimal time to begin participating in the trap program is July.

Continue to Avoid Lawn Chemicals

Insecticides and other chemical pesticides are not the answer for responding to the threat of the Asian giant hornet. Chemical applications are known to deter nesting of our solitary mason and leafcutter bees, whose short daily flying range makes them very sensitive to lawn care applications.

Resources and Awareness

Please visit the WSDA website to learn how to identify Asian giant hornets and report potential sightings. Please be aware that Asian giant hornets should not be approached and that some people are mistakenly killing innocent bumblebee queens. This chart gives a good size representation of various wasps and bees to help with identification. Please leave the eradication of Asian giant hornets to the WSDA or to your state’s invasive pest management professionals.

Other Threats to Mason Bee Health

We wanted to take the chance to raise awareness of established threats to mason bee health, each page includes further information about how to improve the health of mason bees in your yard.

Top photo credit: WSDA.

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