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Old Thursday 21st July 2011, 19:19   #1
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How long do wasp nests last?

I have had a wasps nest in a bird box in my garden this year. I noticed activity in April and back then until June there was increased activity. Mid-June it was like a wasp going in every few seconds. Then suddenly at the beginning of this month the activity just fell away. I noticed a few small wasps going in or hanging around the box and looking a bit drowsy. Then this huge wasp sat on the side of the box for half a day before flying off. I assumed it was a queen as it was at least twice as big as the others.

I thought that wasp nests lasted until Autumn so just wondered if I was wrong or if something has happened to the nest to destroy it? Thanks
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Old Thursday 21st July 2011, 19:24   #2
Keith Dickinson
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Used once then abandoned as the colony dies off, only the queen lives through the winter and she'll start a new nest the following year. I reckon your colony has died early due to the poor weather.
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Old Friday 22nd July 2011, 09:55   #3
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The lifespan of the nest depends on the species and their strategies to get to the end result - that being the production of new queens/males. Long-cycle species, such as V. vulgaris, take longer to produce new queens so a nest may start in April and continue until October. A short-cycle species, like D. sylvestris, may start a nest in April/May and it could be finished by August. Consequently a long-cycle nest of V. vulgaris may produce 10,000+ workers in order to produce 1000 queens, whereas a short-cycle nest of D. sylvestris may only need to produce 300+ workers in order to produce 200 queens. Just different strategies. Add in weather, latitude, food availability etc. and it can be seen how the lifespan of nests can vary.

My guess is your nest is by one of the short-cycle species which can use smaller nest cavities, and probably a Dolichovespula spp. The large wasp would have been a newly produced queen that may go on to found a nest next spring.

Last edited by Wildwood : Friday 22nd July 2011 at 09:57.
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