Social wasp questions

Is social wasp behavior similar to bee behavior? Do wasps have the same ‘dance’ communications that bees use to let other hive members know of food sources?

Are hornets and yellowjackets scavengers? The only things I see them eating are dead things or sweet stuff. They seem very partial to an open soft drink, and seem very determined to bogart my Dr. Pepper when I go out and have a picnic :mad:. They also seem to be drawn to garbage. I know that they are carnivorous, but I always thought of them being like other wasps- viscious killers going after spiders and caterpillars. They have a stinger and some impressive looking jaws, but I’ve never seen them attack a live insect with the intent to kill and it eat it.

Another thing I’m wondering is why they do not survive the winter. I have heard that when the winter comes, all the workers die off and the queen hibernates. In the spring, she lays eggs and makes a new colony. This doesn’t seem very practical to me- the queen seems to be more likely to be susceptible to other dangers without the rest of the hive to protect her. But one guess I have about it is that bees produce honey, which seems to keep fairly well and can be stored when food is scarce, while hornets/yellowjackets don’t appear to store their food, which would likely cause a large die-off once the food supply dries up.

Finally, are bees and social wasps natural enemies? I know ants and termites will have pretty spectacular battles if their colonies get in proximity to each other. Will bees and hornets fight it out? It would seem bees would be at a distinct disadvantage since each could sting only once.

Are hornets and yellowjackets scavengers? The only things I see them eating are dead things or sweet stuff. Yellowjackets are opportunists; they will eat a wide range of food sources - in the wild, this would probably consist of other invertebrates (including larvae0 in the spring and rotting fruit in the autumn, mankind has made things rather easy for them though.

You’re quite right - they do not store up food - the energy resources go into producing new, big fat queens that can disperse and overwinter - in the wild, they would wriggle into a deep crack in tree bark or some other dry, protected place, but again, mankind has made things easy for them.

Some hornets are predatory upon bees - most notably giant Japanese Hornets (they are bloody huge evil looking orange buggers) - the native bees fight the hornets by mobbing them and vibrating their bodies to raise the temperature to a level that is fatal to the hornet. Introduced European honey bees have no defence mechanism against these hornets and get wiped out. Bees can sting some things more than once and survive, if those things are softer or less grippy than human skin.

Here is a downright wicked video of 30 giant hornets killing 30,000 honeybees.

Social wasp questions

Am I the only one who thought this was going to be a question about allowing jews into country clubs? :wink:

This got me thinking about various sci-fi depictions of giant wasps, which by all accounts do not share the more benevolent traits of mankind. It seems unlikely to me that giant wasps could easily survive on this planet, since the caloric energy requirement to maintain flight all the time would be quite large.

Probably livestock, along with the odd human, would suffice for awhile to maintain a population of giant wasps, but I suspect that soon most larger animals would be more hedgehog-like, staying underground much of the time. Result: the giant wasps would soon become extinct, or at least very few in number.

Related question: is pollen high in caloric content, or do bees just use a ton of it to produce honey?