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Polistes dominula (European Paper Wasp) - First Serious Attempt at Keeping Wasps as pets. I want some pointers and/or suggestions.


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#1 burbles

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 07:47 PM

This is my second time keeping wasps as pets -- and I have learned a lot since I first tried last year. They are easy to keep, but the cage I had them in sucked and I eventually stopped doing it since I wasn't totally dedicated/prepared to keep the wasps like I am this time...
So I am a newb when it comes to keeping wasps -- but I am going to do it right so I am going to update and share my project here.

Before I go down a bad path... I would love for someone to poke a few holes in it to improve my project. So here are my plans...

My goal is to get the biggest, happiest, and most thriving European Paper Wasp nest possible. I want it to have a few hundred cells and hopefully a hundred or more wasps by the end of the year.

This is what I am going to be doing, and I will keep it all updated.

1. Build Cage -- see picture below. It is a wooden box that is 2ft by 2ft by 2ft. The top and bottom are solid pieces of wood, and the spaces between are fitted with a metal screen.
The bottom has hinges and opens by having the cage lift above it. This was done to prevent escapes but allowing me to feed them -- there will also be another door in the screen ... probably. (if I find it is needed) -- the screen will be secured to the wood by staples.


2. Hot glue a wasp nest to a semi-dome area that makes them feel safe... this slight dome area is hot glued to the ceiling of the wasp cage. The starting wasp nest will have about 3-7 larvea/pupea on it, and one Queen foundress.

3. Since genetically unrelated wasps will join other nest and help them build, I want to relocate 2-3 more queen wasps to the nest and cage --Think this is a bad idea/problem? I want to do this to "jump start" the nest into the season so it can become as large as possible as fast as possible.



The added queens will stop laying eggs and become subordinate females that work for the most dominant queen - from what I have read... This will increase the ability for the nest to grow in cell number, and help the larvae get fed.


4. Provide them with a large list of foods and building materials, such as:
>1. Worms, waxworms, damsel flies, flies (wings removed, maybe recently killed), small spiders, ear wigs, hamburger, crickets -- essentially any bug that is soft bodied.
>2. Fruit - things like oranges, apples, bananas, etc..

>3. honey/sugar water (I know wasps drink out of hummingbird feeders often)



>4. shredded plant material like ground up (in a blender) straw, things like boiled and moist newspaper and cardboard. Dried leafs, dried horse manure (horses hardly digest plant material and I think this will be helpful) and other things..

>5. Maybe give them a tray with moist soil, and a few seedings/grass sprouts.





My Questions are the following:
1. Can you see anything wrong with my plan?


2. Do you think it will be fine to add several other queens to a pre-existing nest with a queen already on it?

3. What are the best materials to feed wasps for best health, growth, and reproduction?

4. What are the best materials to give to wasps for them to build nests?

5. Do you think it is fine allowing them to come and go from the cage as they please?It will be kept partially inside and partially outside... not moved, but just in a location that is sort of outside and sort of inside -- like in a garage.

6. What else can I possibly do to help these out as much as possible? I want the only limiting factor to be their ability to grow and build the nest -- I want them to have food, water, and building materials in absolute and total excess.

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Edited by burbles, 16 May 2012 - 07:49 PM.


#2 burbles

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 08:10 PM

Also here is the bottom of the cage -- since most of the materials will be kept on the bottom, I figure it is an important thing.. to show... perhaps?

Additionally -- here is a video of a wild wasp I fed a dragonfly. It loved the food.
I have been feeding other wasps near my house -- and they actually learn (within the second time of hand feeding them) not to fear my hand -- but to expect food from it! Originally they displayed a defensive show and would try to bite at the food in an aggressive nature -- now they just casually take it out of my fingers. Interesting that a wasp can learn and be taught something like that!



(Sorry about the bad video quality -- It was taken with an ipod and I kind of Micheal Jay Foxed the recording!) Look at how hungry that wasp is! it tore into the dragonfly like it was going out of style.

Attached Files

  • Attached File  bott.JPG   97.79KB   7 downloads

Edited by burbles, 16 May 2012 - 08:10 PM.


#3 Arenaria

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 09:09 PM

Nice enclosure. I won't be much help but i know that your gonna need some form of wood inside the enclousre. They need it to repair and build their nest.

#4 SouthFloridaBeeAndWaspGuy

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 05:52 PM

This is interesting stuff here, Burbles!

I watched the video of the wasp trying to eat the dragonfly, and feed it to the brood, maybe. It looked like it was quite a bit bigger than the food that she is used to!

Well, like Arenaria, I don't have any experience in trying to keep / or raise wasps, either. So I'm afraid I can't help you.

However, I want to refer you to another thread on here -- one that was posted before you joined, I think.

Here it is: http://www.venomlist...w-queen-advice/

That is from approximately a month ago, but some other members on there give advice and share experiences on raising wasp queens, and their daughters, and what to feed them.

I think that may be of some interest to you. Click on that link, and it will take you to that thread.

Best of luck with all of this, and I think it's really neat that you are trying to do it at all!
The little critters could use some human help, in addition to their own survival skills!

Check out that thread, and see what you think.

Best wishes!

Steven :)

#5 SouthFloridaBeeAndWaspGuy

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 05:57 PM

One last thing, Burbles, while we're on this subject!

Go to that link I gave you up there, and go approximately half way down into it, and you will see a post by Hornetboy, where he gives some more links that are specifically about keeping wasps.

Click on any or all of those 3 there, and I'm sure you'll find some good advice there.

Best of luck to you, once again!

Take care,

Steven :)

#6 Arenaria

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 07:30 AM

I have some experince. Just not with Polistes. I've never seen one in my life! ><

#7 hornissen

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 06:27 AM

Hey Burbles,

Sorry for the late reply but wanted to say welcome to the forums the European paper wasp P. Dominula is a favorite of mine as well because of its large colonies it can have. I got a nest in my collection thats actually stuck together and its like a foot long or better. You go you a good set up going there.

I myself am not a wasp keeper but am a beekeeper and I work with honeybees.


Regards,

Michael

#8 burbles

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 12:09 AM

Ah sorry for the late reply! This site had some sort of virus and seemed dead when I was first here so I left.

Anyways the best I got originally had two founders in it and now has 12 wasps I total with two cells ready to hatch out any day. As well as several larvae that range from near pupating to very young.

I have learned that of I put a syringe full of honey against the screen and drag it across while pressing many honey droplets will form on the inside that is easily accessible to the wasps. I also give them lots of insects - damselflies and mayflies mostly but anything else I can.

Also I give them tons of cardboard that has been shaken and stirred over night. I recently discovered if I pour the water now with lots of fibers floating in it onto the screen it forms a thin layer of paper like material that the wasps really prefer to collect for nesting material.


Also I give them water on a daily basis and have so far been keeping them outside as I have noticed smaller bugs make it into their cage.



It is my understanding that this wasp nest of this species can only get about 170 cells, but I know they reuse their cells up to three times, maybe more so potentially I could have hundreds of wasps soon.

Will post some pictures soon.

#9 burbles

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 12:14 AM

http://t.co/Qk5wS96Z

There is one - I always try to toss in new foods or potential best building material to see if they can use it.

#10 burbles

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 02:48 PM




Crappy video since it was taken with an iPod but... Good enough to see how happy they are... Lots of food, paper, water, etc and they are all collecting it to feed their young and build the nest.




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