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Wasp and bee species

There may be hundreds of species of wasps, hornets and bees found around the world. Only a few of these are seen as real pests here in Fiji.

Some species, like the Honey Bee, are actually a valuable part of our ecosystem. Understanding their habits, lifecycle and appearance can help to identify the best form of wasp control for your home or business.

See our list below of common species in Fiji.

Honey bee

(Apis mellifera)

If you have a problem with a honey bee swarm, contact a local bee keeper or Environmental Health Department as they will be able to arrange for the swarm to be relocated.

Honey bee

Key Facts

  • They live in hollow trees or in chimneys, wall cavities or roof spaces.
  • They are similar in size to wasps but are furrier and mostly black in colour.
  • Honey bees convert nectar into honey and beeswax.
  • A honey bee swarm will arrive in flight and cluster on a tree branch.
  • A colony size can often be greater than 30,000 individual honey bees.
  • Population under threat from varroa mite.

Social wasp

(Vespula)

Yellow jackets

Appearance

  • Worker - 1/2 inch long. 
  • Queen - 3/4 inch long. 
  • Alternating black and yellow bands. 
  • Two sets of wings. 
  • Narrow waist. 
  • Lance-like stinger.

Life cycle and habits of the Yellow jackets

Lifecycle

  • Annual colonies 
  • Queen begins to nest in spring 
  • Aggressive numbers in late summer 
  • Colonies begin to decline by autumn 
  • Only inseminated queens nest over winter

Habits

  • Feeding: early in the year they feed on insects including caterpillars / harmful flies, as colonies mature later in summer they are attracted to sweet food and become more of a nuisance
  • Sting: sting repeatedly, will sting if provoked with symptoms range from swelling to life-threatening allergic shock 
  • Visibility: active during the day as they don't see well at night 
  • Nesting: in trees / shrubs, or internally in attics, hollow walls/ flooring, sheds, under porches/eaves of buildings

Solitary bee

(Andrena fulva (Solitary Mining Bee))

Solitary bee

Appearance

  • Often look similar to the honey bee.

Life cycle and habits of the Australian mortar bee

Lifecycle

  • Colony size - small nests which are individually tended by a female. 
  • Preferred nest sites - often in sandy soil, sometimes in soft cement and mortar between bricks. 
  • Although solitary, nests are often found near each other in villages in a suitable nesting area. 
  • Nest construction - various materials. Usually a new nest each year.

Habits

  • Swarming - does not swarm. 
  • Overwintering - usually in the pupal stage within the nest. 
  • Food preferences - honey and pollen. 
  • Rarely stings and is not aggressive.

Hornets

(Vespa crabro)

Hornets

Appearance

  • Large, up to 1.8 inches long. 
  • Wings are reddish-orange. 
  • Orange abdomen with brown stripes.

Life cycle and habits of the hornets

Lifecycle

  • Nests are founded in the Spring. 
  • Most die-off by late Autumn. 
  • Only the fertilized Queen overwinters.

Habits

  • Nesting – In sheltered places, e.g. tree trunks, bushes, sides of buildings, barns, attics, hollow walls. Their nests are grey and paper-like. 
  • A colony can reach a size of 700 workers 
  • Sting - Only sting when provoked. Sting is painful to humans. They can bite and sting at the same time. They can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defence which is highly dangerous to humans. 
  • Feeding - Live insects and sap. Are not attracted to human food.

European wasp and English wasp

(Family: Vespidae, eg Vespula vulgaris & Vespula germanica)

European wasp and English wasp

Appearance

  • Yellow and black body, marking varies according to species
  • Workers vary in size from 12 – 17mm

Life cycle and habits of the European wasp and English wasp

Lifecycle

  • Only young queens survive over winter and emerge in the spring to start nest building and lay eggs
  • Workers (sterile females) emerge during early summer and take over nest building 
  • Queen continues to lay eggs
  • New queens and males mate in early autumn
  • Nest dies during winter, including all the males and workers
  • Wasps do not swarm

Habits

  • Nest in old rodent burrows, hollow trees and bushes
  • Indoors, they prefer to build nests in sheltered locations with easy access to the outside, such as lofts, garages and wall cavities
  • Food preferences are insects early in the season when the brood is young and sweet foods later in summer as the brood matures and the workers become more of a pest to humans
  • Females sting readily and can sting repeatedly
  • A colony may have as many as 25,000 individual wasps.

Carpenter bees

(Xylocopa spp. — 8 species)

Carpenter bees

Appearance

  • Carpenter bees are the largest native bees at 15-24 mm long 
  • Females have a glossy black abdomen and yellow fur on the thorax 
  • Males are covered in yellow brown or olive fur including on the head

Life cycle and habits of the Carpenter bees

Lifecycle

  • Tunnel into wood to lay eggs
  • Life cycle from egg – larva – pupa – adult takes approximately seven weeks 
  • Larva is large and noisy 
  • New adults emerge from the nest late August

Habits

  • Active — late-spring to mid-October 
  • Nesting — they make tunnels in bare, untreated wood to lay their eggs
  • Old nests are used year after year
  • Location — around homes nests can be found in eaves, window trims, fascia boards, siding, decks and outdoor furniture 
  • Feeding — feed on pollen and nectar; pollen is stored in the tunnels for over-wintering
  • Do not sting unless provoked

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