Do Bald-Faced Hornets Kill Honey Bees? & How to Protect Them

One question that looms for many beekeeping beginners is, “Do bald-faced hornets kill honey bees?” 

The answer is a resounding yes. Bald-faced hornets pose a potential threat to the lives of honey bees. Opportunistic and lethal, a lone bald-faced hornet can annihilate dozens of bees in a brief period. Still, this isn’t a common scenario.

In this post, we’ll unveil the intricacies of these insects’ behaviors and explain their dangers to honey bee colonies.

More importantly, we’ll provide you with the guidelines for handling these hornets.

How Are Bald-Faced Hornets Dangerous to Your Honey Bees?

Bald Faced Hornet

Bald-faced hornets have a predatory nature. They won’t hesitate to target honey bees, especially if they’re weakened or injured. 

A single bald-faced hornet can swiftly eliminate dozens of bees, making them a formidable threat.

Worse still, their attacks aren’t limited to the hive; they may also target individual worker bees as they fly around.

This rapid predation can have detrimental effects on your beekeeping. It also can be catastrophic for the local bee population and the ecosystems that depend on their pollination services.

Unfortunately, not many bee species have developed effective defenses against these predators. The Japanese honey bee is an exception, employing a unique strategy to protect its hive from these wasps.

That said, we have good news! Despite their capability to hunt and kill bees, bald-faced hornets don’t seem to have a particular focus on honey bees.

For more in-depth information about bees and their protection, check out this guide on best beekeeping books.

A Close Look at the Bald-Faced Hornet

Bald-faced hornets, scientifically known as Dolichovespula maculata, defy their name by not being true hornets. Instead, they belong to the wasp family, closely related to yellow jackets. 

They’re recognized by various monikers such as white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, bald-faced yellow jacket, bull wasp, and black jacket. 

Their size and distinctive coloration earned them the misleading title of “bald-faced hornet.”

While larger than yellowjackets, these insects are predominantly black with striking white faces, “tails,” and abdomen spots. 

Adult bald-faced hornets typically reach just over ½”, with queens growing larger, nearing a full inch. 

These wasps inhabit most of the United States and Canada, with a prevalence in the southeastern, western, and eastern regions. They’re especially plentiful in late summer.

This distribution increases the likelihood of encounters, or worse, having a colony establish residence in or around homes. Although these insects are captivating, bald-faced hornets are potentially problematic.

What Is the Safest Way to Eliminate Bald-Faced Hornets?

As we said earlier, bald-faced hornets don’t seem to specifically focus on killing bees. So, a small number of them might be present near your beehives but still don’t pose a threat to your honey bees.

However, if this isn’t the case and you start to spot attacks from these wasps on your beehives, you need to take defensive action.

Still, prioritizing safety is paramount when confronted with a bald-faced hornet infestation. 

The most effective and secure approach is to seek the assistance of experienced pest professionals to carefully remove and eliminate hornets.

Why professionals? Because bald-faced hornets can be highly aggressive when disturbed, increasing the risk of stings. 

You won’t probably be able to handle such a scenario. Professionals, however, possess the knowledge to navigate challenging wasp nest removal scenarios.

How Do You Safely Get Rid of Bald-Faced Hornets Yourself?

As mentioned earlier, opting for professional pest control to help remove hornet nests is the safest option. We don’t recommend you do this process yourself.

If you still want to DIY the removal process, be cautious and avoid using conventional removal methods like cutting a limb to drop the nest into a trash bag.

That’s because bald-faced hornets possess strong jaws and can chew through the bag and go out attacking you.

For those inclined towards a DIY approach to remove these wasps’ nests, here are key considerations to ensure a safe and effective resolution:

1. Intervene Early

Act promptly when the nest is in its early stages. You should control the nest before the queen has a chance to build up a sizable population. 

In the early stage, it’s much easier to manage the situation.

2. Observe Your Enemy

Before implementing your removal plan, observe the nest to identify the entrance used by the hornets. 

This knowledge is crucial for precise nest targeting while avoiding unnecessary conflicts with the wasps.

Bald-Faced Hornet on a Plant

3. Strike When Wasps Are at Rest Time

Attack the nest at night using a pressurized pesticide specifically formulated for wasp and hornet control. 

To do so, direct the spray at the entrance to reach the nest without alarming the inhabitants. The wasps are more restful at night, providing a window of opportunity for intervention.

4. Gear Up for Safety

Protect yourself from potential stings, considering bald-faced hornets can sting multiple times. 

Wear eye protection, long sleeves, and chemical-resistant gloves to stay on the safe side. In addition, plan an escape route to minimize personal contact with the pests.

5. Ensure a Successful Outcome

A few hours after applying the pesticide, return to the nest site to observe and ensure that all the wasps have been effectively eradicated. This is vital before attempting to remove the nest.

Note that any surviving hornets may become more aggressive in the following days.

Wrapping Up 

So, do bald-faced hornets kill honey bees? Yes, they can kill your honey bees. 

Still, these wasps don’t singularly focus on preying on honey bees and shouldn’t notably affect your bee population. However, if they threaten your beehives for any reason, you may need to consider removing their nests.

In this case, safety in handling hornet presence lies in professional intervention. It ensures both effective nest removal and personal safety. 

For DIYers, the outlined considerations above provide a roadmap for safe nest removal. Nevertheless, you need to adhere to all the guidelines strictly; otherwise, don’t DIY this process, as it can be dangerous.

For more reliable information about beekeeping, check out our guide on managing honey bees.

Thomas Callaghan

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