Strifer

Yellow jacket journal[3]

45 posts in this topic

Species : Vespula vulgaris.

Colony captured : 21/7/2012.

Journal youtube channel : http://www.youtube.c...Qkvcr8f80KCq4tA

 

General goal : Learn how to best care for a pet yellow jacket colony - V.vulgaris specifically.

 

Specific primary goal : Keep the colony alive as long as possible,ideally over autumn and winter to spring.

My theory is that a yellow jacket queens lifespan is limited by the amount of sperm she has in her body, once the sperm runs out, she becomes steril and loses her ability to lay fertile eggs that will turn into workers, and she also loses her queen "scent" casuing the colony to disintegrate. Each time the queen lays an egg, alittle bit of sperm is wasted. So the less eggs the queen lay. The longer her sperm supply will last and the longer she will be able to lay fertile eggs and the longer the colony will exist.

 

By limiting the number of cells the queen has access to. You can limit the amount of eggs she lays. A queen with thousands of cells will naturally run out of sperm faster then a queen with only 100 cells. And by limiting the amount of wood you give the workers, you limit the amount of cells they can build. Thus by keeping the cell count low, I hope to keep the queen alive for a much longer them then she would normally be alive. Which is september. The most optmistic goal is to keep her alive until spring when afresh queen can be caught and integrated into the nest. Thus making it a full-year colony.

 

Motivation behind choice of species : I view V.vulgaris as the best yellow jacket species to keep in captivity, for the following reasons.

1. They often live deep underground in intricate tunnels, thus their psyches should be more adapted at running around in tubes.

2. They have the largest colony of any nordic yellow jacket. With around 10000 workers at the end of the year. According to the "egg->lifespan" theory. This means this species has the potential for the longest lifespan.

3. It lives underground so keeping it in a seperate dark tank is natural for them.

 

Music videos.

28-7-2012 : Workers eating chicken.

 

29-7-2012 :Ninja worker takes on incapicated cricket. :)

 

17-8-2012 : Worker feeding frenzy.

 

 

Species identification.

V. vulgaris : nest appearance.

http://farm4.static...._c43e0e936c.jpg

 

V. vulgaris : Head/face appearance.

http://www.ozanimals...is-portrait.jpg

 

V. vulgaris : Backside marks.

http://www.naturecon...garis-queen.jpg

 

 

Information

http://www.bwars.com...espula-vulgaris

http://en.wikipedia....espula_vulgaris

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespula

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Yellowjacket

 

Forum for wasp-keeping.

http://www.venomlist...hp?showforum=44

 

Two threads about wasp-keeping.

http://antfarm.yuku....ing-paper-wasps

http://antfarm.yuku.com/topic/7424

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

17-7-2012

 

I've managed to get a hold of new terrarium(Vespidarium? :)). I intend to use this to keep wasps in but this time not quasi-free range like my Dolichovespula colonies, but in full captivity instead, so I will be able to observe them hunt, process food etc.

94387056.png

 

I've also learnt a lot about wasps these last few weeks. My goal has been to try to keep wasps for as long as possible, and maybe even hibernate them until next year. From what I've read, Vespula germanica is the best choice for this. They are however very rare here, so I will go after vespula vulgaris instead which are common and appear have very similar behavioral characteristic to V.germanica.

 

From what I've read I learnt that V.vulgaris often lives in in the ground, and with some luck I managed to locate a subterranean wasp nest, at a friends place they were going to pour gasoline on it but agreed to give it to me instead:), I will capture a wasp or two tomorrow and see what species it is. With any luck, it is V.vulgaris.

 

Wasp nest entrance.

img1086lt.jpg

 

img1082xw.jpg

 

Video record at the wasps entrance.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

18-7-2012

 

I managed to capture a few workers.

 

Any wasp identification expert who can verify that this is vespula vulgaris? I really looks like it too me.

42204595.png

 

untitle2dh.png

 

unti32131tled.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deffinitely looks like Vespula vulgaris to me

 

However, I think it very unwise and unfair to keep these in a cage. There may be thousands of wasps in one of these colonies, and they may need thousands of prey insects PER DAY. Nothing like that little Dolichovespula nest you have. Even if you manage to provide the astonomical amount of resources they need, they still do not do well in captivity. Plus managing thousands of angry yellowjackets in a cage is difficult to say the least

 

I can only give you my best thoughts from experience and hope that you follow. If you wish to do completely captive, try something a little more managable and less complex such as a Polistes colony. Or try keeping a spring Vespula queen and getting her to initiate a nest and caring for her through to the first workers before letting them free range. Your new cage looks great if used for the right thing.

 

In my opinion there is nothing better in the world than a free ranging yellojacket colony that basically "runs itself" while you can watch them in your own home. The wasps are happy, and so are you.

Edited by vulgaris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can only give you my best thoughts from experience and hope that you follow. If you wish to do completely captive, try something a little more managable and less complex such as a Polistes colony.

I'm afraid we do not have Polistes in Sweden, I've never seen one in my entire life atleast, and I've been hunting wasps and such since I was 7. If you want to keep wasps in northern countries, your choices are yellow jackets or hornets.

 

Are you concerned I am tearing up a perfectly healthy wasp nest? Cuz this nest as all I have harvested so far were targeted for future destruction by the landowners. This nest was going to get gasolined.

 

they still do not do well in captivity.

Hm, such is not my experince, I kept yellow jackets last year and I think they did excellent, it only toke them 2 days to adjust to captivity. Sadly the queen died from starvation during that time, but I hope to fix that this time by manually feeding the queen the first few days.

 

But even if they did bad in captivity, that would only mean that too few people have kept yellow jackets for us to have learnt how to keep them properly.

 

Here are some images from my last years attempt at keeping yellow jackets.

99703930.png

 

59086890.png

 

1125c.png

 

62172802.png

 

91759566.png

 

un1231312led.png

 

unled333.png

 

unle12121d.png

 

 

231un3led.png

 

un1t31itled.png

 

16143229.png

 

Plus managing thousands of angry yellowjackets in a cage is difficult to say the least

Well, they are not really "angry" I find them quite calm. They only become agitated if you physically touch their nest or indirectly touch it by causing vibration. I have no problem moving my hand right outside their nest, the wasps just raise their antennas in alertness and follow my activities. Otherwise they only sting if forcibly held.

cimg2326jd.jpg

 

cimg2332b.jpg

 

There may be thousands of wasps in one of these colonies, and they may need thousands of prey insects PER DAY.

Indeed that is true, eventually there will become too many of them. That will however be months away, and during that time I will be able to collect much pictures/movies and data to help me understand how to best keep this species in the future.

 

I have prepared following scenarios for in the future when the colony becomes too large.

1. Convert the tank into a inside-free range colony.(Simply adding a tube and connecting it to the outside)

2. Realocate the colony into a observation setup that I have constructed that looks roughly like this.

img0847yr.jpg

 

 

I hope you understand.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20-7-2012

 

Well, I talked with my friends, I will extract/rescue the nest the 21-7-2012.

 

Here follows some of the stuff I will use to harvest the nest.

 

I managed to get a hold of a bee suit. Which will make things much more easy.

cimg5174i.jpg

 

This is the container I will keep the wasp nest in. I will put paper in the bottom so the nest lands softly, and also the wasps tends to borrow down in paper, so they do not fly up against the glass.

cimg5178a.jpg

 

cimg5179o.jpg

 

Here is much of the gear I will use.

cimg5180.jpg

 

The plan is to stand outside the nest and capture most of the active workers. I expect this may take around 30min to capture most of them. Then once the worker flows ceases, I use a scissor to cut down the grass around the entrance. Once this is done, I will attempt to listen to the ground if I can find the nest, wasps nesting underground often use their wings to create an airflow and get ventilation, this can often easily be heard by laying your hear to the ground. If I hear the nest I will go right for it, else I will follow the tunnels. The reasons I do not want to capture all wasps workers, is that if I am having a hard time locating the nest, I want to be able to follow the workers in the right direction. So if I cannot find the nest, I just wait 20min for a worker to crawl out from some hole and show me the right way.

 

Then I will begin digging, V.vulgaris nest are usually not deeper in then 45cm, at this time, when I start to digg, I expect many defensive wasps that remained inside will fly out, I will capture all of these. Once I reach the nest, I will gently put it in the container, I do not want to break it, cuz I do not want the queen to fly out. There will be paper in the bottom of the container as well as cotton dripped with honey.

 

Then I will seal the nest in and wrap a black cloth around the nest so it is completely dark inside, this is to prevent any wasps inside from flying against the glass and burning themselves out(energywise). After all is done, I will remain for around 40min to capture any remaining wasps. I will then go directly home and install the nest. It is very important to do everything as quick as possible, as wasps can starve to death within a few hours. Each jar with wasps in will also have a cotton of honey in it, as well as paper.

 

cimg5177.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

21-7-2012

 

Failure. It was just too warm in all that gear to use my metod of slowly collecting all the workers. And I did not have enough confidence in my anti-wasp protection gear to take on a midsummer vespula nest directly. I will return in the week and if it is rainy and cloudly and not too warm, I will continue to capture workers using my metod, and if it is super warm like last time, I will collect it during the night instead, when the wasps can't fly.

 

Here are some pictures of the failed captured.

cimg5195.jpg

 

untitle321d.png

 

Captured wasp.

unt321itled.png

 

cimg5201j.jpg

 

45175260.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

24-7-2012

 

Well. Tomorrow is the last chance for me to extract the nest, or my friend will gasoline it. If I managed to extract the nest I plan to cut it up into two pieces, the main part, the top comb, along with the queen and a chunk of workers I take for my pets I do not need so much anyway. The other part of the nest, the lower combs. I will reallocate somewhere and see if it grows. If there are any drones or queens in the combs this will give them a chance to spread their genes.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well what happened?

Thanks for the question, and the answers is - a lot. :) Here comes two months worth of updates. =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

21-7-2012

 

I am sad to report failure : It was too warm in my anti-wasp outfit to use my metod of slowly collecting the majority of outside workers. And I did not have enough confident in my anti-wasp gear to tackle the nest headon.

 

I vill return later this week, if the weather is good(cool) then I will use my metod of systematically collecting all outside workers first. If not, I will wait until dark and digg the nest up then as wasps cannot see and thus not fly in the dark, excluding hornets.

 

Some images.

cimg5195.jpg

 

untitle321d.png

 

Captured yellow jacket.

unt321itled.png

 

cimg5201j.jpg

 

45175260.png

 

 

Video.

 

Entrance to the nest.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

24-7-2012

 

Tomorrow I will make a second attempt at capturing the nest, my comrade is starting to get ancy and wants the nest removed. If I succeed in capturing the nest I will split it in two pieces, one that I keep and the other that I reallocate. So I can observe how adaptable they are when moved.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

25-7-2012

 

Day 1.

 

When I arrived at my friends I was informed that he had already poured gasoline on the nest. Luckly he seemed to have misunderstood where the entrance was and poured the gasoline in the wrong place, despite this the ground is riddled with dead and dying wasps. I can only hope the nest is uneffected.

15062771.png

 

I very quickly managed to locate the nest, it was just below the surface, perhaps 10cm deep at most. Initially I encountered only a few wasps, which I found worrisome. But as I got closer to the nest more and more frightened wasps start to fly out to protect their home.

cimg5323m.jpg

 

If it was not obvious from the workers visual attributes that this species is vespula vulgaris, then it certainly is from the nest. The nest has that distinct orangy/browish/yellow color and the nests surrounding paper has a different texture and is much more fragile than aerial wasp nests.

98325484.png

 

cimg5322.jpg

 

I gently put the nest in the nest-container I had prepared. Despite my care the paper was so fragile that it almost falls apart at contact. I suppose subterranean wasps do not need to build resilient nests as aerial wasps that must survive rain/wind.

 

Nest in its container.

u32131ntitled.png

 

unti32321tled.png

 

Otherside.

u32131ntitle321d.png

 

untitle32131d.png

 

Front. The nest was much larger then I anticipated there must be thousands of larve and pupae in this nest. Had I waited another two/three weeks and my friend had no gasolined it, there would have been thousands of wasps instead of hundreds. Huge colonies is a Vespula vulgaris trait that seperates it from the Dolichovespula I kept earlier. Those colonies rarely grow more then a few hundred individuals, while V.vulgaris can grow up to 10000 workers at the end of the year.

untitl321ed.png

 

Now begins the process of removing all the useless material to get to the combs and the actual wasps.

cimg5333.jpg

 

cimg5337q.jpg

 

Once most of the unwanted excess material was out of the way I start to fish up the workers with a barbecue stick. Here I encounter wasps which are morphologically and behaviorally different from the previous workers.. These workers are much smaller, maybe 50% the wasps I captured on the outside. As well as almost refusing to fly and fight. These smaller "inside" wasps merely make a upset "buzzzt" when provocated and then try to run away without flying. I don't actually know if yellow jackets have a cast system like ants.. But it certainly seems like it.. These smaller cowardly yellow jacket being equilevent of the ants "nurse" ants.

cimg5338.jpg

 

Alla workers I captured outside during the extraction. Not knowing how many workers I needed, I capture as many as I could. Which was pretty much everyone I think.

untitle4324d.png

 

I gav them some honey while they wait for me to finish up with their nest. It is very important to ensure your workers has constant access to honey or some sugery substance. Yellow jackets will starve to death in a few hours without nurishment.

unti3231led.png

 

Famished workers gorge themselves.

untitl321321ed.png

 

I managed to capture a large amount of the remaining wasps in the nest.

cimg5344g.jpg

 

untitle212d.png

 

Nest container empty.

cimg53532.jpg

 

Comb.

cimg5348.jpg

 

cimg5333t.jpg

 

untitle321321d.png

 

unti3213tled.png

 

"Inside" workers much smaller then normal workers, their function appears to tend to the inside nest and they rarely fly and rather runs then fights if confronted.

un321titl321ed.png

 

It is clearly visible that they have started to build cells for queens and drones, these new cells are much larger then the older ones.

cimg5351.jpg

 

untitle212d.png

 

Queen cells, a Vespula vulgaris colony can produce around 1000 queens and 1000 drones a year.

unt32131tled.png

 

Now I have organized the combs, the nest had cracked in the middle despite my attempts to be careful. I chose to remove the third comb to easier get to the queen. The nest will consist of the two top combs.

 

Nest.

untitle32131d.png

 

The nest is put on soft paper to damaged as few larvae as possible and decrease the risk for structural damage on the combs.

un321titled.png

 

untitl32131ed.png

 

From below.

cimg5354u.jpg

 

Continue -->

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Continue

 

I can hear the queen inside. Sporadically she emits loud "bizzzt" noises when I managed to poke at her and she becomes terrfied. I gently cut away as much of the paper as possible to get a better view.

unti32321312tled.png

 

This appears to have been the last front for the wasps, in the little space between the combs more then 30 workers are packed.

udsadsadntitled.png

 

Now I am attempting to extract the queen. It is necassary to remove her since the nest must be glued up and the fumes could possible kill her if she remained on the nest as it was glued on.

 

 

It takes 3 hours. Every single wasp except the queen has been captured. Eventually the queen has had enough of being poked at with a stick and without any notice she rushes out of the nest in full speed, I am so suprised that the leaves the nest and at her size so I forget to capture her and she falls right on the floor, I can only hope she did not sustain any injuries. I quickly and carefully transfer her to a jar with a few young workers and honey. There she will remain until I glued up her nest.

 

The queen is enormous! She is so swullen, I was luck her body did not break as she fell to the floor.

untitl321312321ed.png

 

untitl3213213213ed.png

 

96754887.png

 

un32132131titled.png

 

It is now 0400 in the morning, and I can finally start the final phase, constructing the platform the nest will be on, and gluing the nest to it.

 

The platform is constructed from a few folded cardboard pieces.

cimg5363ci.jpg

 

Shape as an L to increase stability.

cimg5362u.jpg

 

Since the nest is bigger then I initially anticipated I choose to use three cardboard pieces instead of two.

cimg5361t.jpg

 

It is all glued togheter with a gluegun.

 

Final results.

cimg5365.jpg

 

It is finally time to glue up the nest itself.

cimg5366.jpg

 

cimg5368q.jpg

 

cimg5367.jpg

 

It almost ended badly, but now it is done.

Some of the most awful glue-work I have ever done, but what can I do. :)

cimg5369s.jpg

 

I start with putting the queen on the nest togheter with the other young workers in the jar.

cimg5370.jpg

 

I then put in the jars with the other wasps in and remove their lid, I will let them find the nest themselves, which they have in previous journals managed without a problem.

cimg5371t.jpg

 

Angry guard-worker stares into the camera.

untit32131ed.png

 

Everyone seems to have made themselves at home, that was quick. The queen is even laying an egg.

untit32131ed.png

 

un32131titled.png

 

 

Video.

 

Queen.

 

"Inside" worker sticks out head.

 

The nest recently captured.

 

 

The nest recently captured.

 

Combs filled with pupae.

 

 

Note.

1. : In one of the videos a newly hatched workers put into the tank from the opposite side finds its way to the nest. All you need to do to add more workers is just simply putting them anywhere in the tank and they will find a way. It not necassary to put the workers right on the nest. Which would be a pain, literally..=)

 

2 : Yellow jacket appear to have distinct worker casts like ants, the yellow jackets found inside the nest was almost 50% smaller. Altough there could be other explanation for their morphological differences, it maybe that these are the first-generation workers, which are smaller due to less nutrient intake. Any ideas? :)

 

3 : The nest was quite shallow. Only 5-10cm down into the dirt.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

26-7-2012

 

Day 2.

 

The yellow jacket have been displaying disturbingly aggressive/defensive behavior today. I do not know if this is the standard behavior for this species or if they are just extra agitated today being in a new area without any cover. I certainly hope this behavior is not their norm.

 

I saved a few combs to be able to replenish the colonies work force should it be needed. Everyday it seems around 20 new workers are born.

cimg5374z.jpg

 

untitle32131d.png

 

I put the newly hatched ones in a testube that has had its inside lined with liquid telefon. This makes it impossible for the workers to crawl out.I then put them into the tank and let them find their way to the nest. Which they do.

http://desmond.image...png&res=landing

 

Once inside the tank all young workers crawl up into a corner and stays put. I will observe their behavior closely during the day.

untitl3231ed.png

 

The terrarium now. I have left the glass-jars, the wasps have been so agitated today I have not felt compelled to stick my hand in to remove them, even with gloves. Everytime I pass the terrarium 3-4 wasps start to fly around and if I wave my hand outside the tank. They start attacking the glass.

untit212led.png

 

It is now night, and the yellow jackets are much calmer so calm I dare to stick my hand(inside my jacket) and remove the glass jars. There is no reaction from the yellow jackets. No attacks no scoutings.

cimg5388z.jpg

 

cimg5387o.jpg

 

I have placed a carboard under the nest to be able to clearly see if the queen has died.. But also to be able to more easily observe what they are discarding. So far a lot of larve and pupae, perhaps they are discarded those that got damaged .. Or perhaps the yellow jackets are just stressed out and is venting some of their angest on the larve. It might also be that the honey I placed on the comb is undermining the larvae ability to hold themselves in their cells and thus causing them to fall down, by themselves.

cimg5385pi.jpg

 

Some images of the queen.

cimg5384n.jpg

 

cimg5384n.jpg

 

untit3231led.png

 

untitle32321d.png

 

Note.

1. It seems that the newly hatched workers are not only -not able to fly. But they are also unable to sting. It seems to take around 2-3 days for a newly hatched worker to fully mature. Into a fully functional worker.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

27-7-2012

 

Dag 3.

 

The yellow jackets appears to have calmed down now, and they do not react at all when you pass or sit down next to the tank.

 

I now, a few days into keeping yellow jackets.. Understand that this setup is all wrong.. Right now the hunting ground and their nest is in the same space, the terrarium.. What I should have done is made a seperate tank for the nest and kept it there, perhaps inside of a small plastic tank. And then connected the two with a plastic tube. And let them forage in the large tank. While living seperate in the little tank.

 

This would have been more natural for the yellow jacket as this species favores living below ground, with a new setup they would also need to pass throught tunnels to get to their hunting ground - just like in nature. It would probably also be nicer for the yellow jackets if they were not constantly exposed to the light from the ramp all the time.

 

It would also be more practical for me, partly because most of the yellow jacket flying around randomly in the tank trying to get to the light, probably would vanish. And partly because I would be able to fix and clean with their forage tank without triggering their defensive behavior.

 

I will think on a way to solve this problem. Maybe I need to get a new tank to put the nest in.

 

The entire setup now.

cimg5416.jpg

 

More workers hatch, around 20 everyday. I will save these combs and transplant new captivity born workers to the nest.. It may be that the older workers do not function properly in a captivity. And captivity born workers are the only ones that work.

cimg5401t.jpg

 

u312ntitled.png

 

67346805.png

 

cimg5402.jpg

 

cimg5404k.jpg

 

I was chocked when I found the queen crawling on the ground! She must be so huge she is having trouble keeping her grip on the combs.

cimg5399j.jpg

 

I let her climb on to a barbeque stick and I lifted her back to her nest. She climed back to the nest directly. This happen yesterday also, so I assume it will be a recurring problem.. I will construct a platform under the nest to prevent this from happning in the future.

cimg5399j.jpg

 

A number of wasps keep gnawing at the ventilation gride. The fact that they are doing this right above the nest at the same place,might mean that they perceive themselves to be underground or locked in and they want to digg - upwards/out. This may be due to a low air circulation inside the tank.. The picture is bad, but there is 5 workers right above the nest gnawing and gnawing.

cimg5397h.jpg

 

I put two small fans on the ventilation gride to cause airflow, which hopefully will give the colony the impression that they are outside. It appears to have worked and the workers are no longer gnawing at the metalmesh. They stop as soon as fans went on.

cimg5415t.jpg

 

cimg5418o.jpg

 

I have added some cockroaches as food for them, the workers have yet to touched them however. :(

untitle32131d.png

 

I always put honey directly on the nest, to ensure the queen has access to it. In 3 attempts last year the queens always starved to death the first or second day, so from now on I manually feed my colonies by putting honey right on the exposed combs. This I hope ensures that every yellow jacket is full, inside workers as well as outside workers as well as the queen, I will continue with this until I feel I can trust the colony to function normally.

cimg5417.jpg

 

cimg5408.jpg

 

Worker discarding defective pupae.

cimg5409.jpg

 

untitl32312ed.png

 

untitle321312d.png

 

untitl3213213ed.png

 

The queen.

untitl323122122ed.png

 

The workers have begun building on their nest. It seems yellow jacket always start reinforcing the base. Altough I find this expansion of the nest a bit odd since I have put no wood in the tank.. Perhaps they are using the cardboard? Or cannibalizing other parts of the nest to reinforcing the base.

71206139.png

 

85464498.png

 

cimg5400t.jpg

 

un3231titled.png

 

unt32131itled.png

 

Worker looks out from the nest.

85099519.png

 

untitle32312d.png

 

I saw the worker gnaw on something, thought I have not seen them touch the cockroaches, I am not quite sure what they may have found..

untitle321313d.png

 

unt3213itled.png

 

un321313titled.png

 

untitl3232131ed.png

 

I plan to put this below the nest to prevent the queen from falling down again..=)

cimg5427m.jpg

 

The workers became alittle agitated but now the platform is in place. Hopefully I will have no more falling queen incidents..

untitle323123d.png

 

untitle3232131d.png

 

Guard worker gives the camera a suspicious look while I install the platform.

"I see you..."

untit3231led.png

 

Night snack.

untit32312312led.png

 

 

Video.

 

 

 

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

28-7-2012

 

Day 4.

 

Today was a joyous day, the day when the colony started to eat, now they are both expanding their nest and eating.. Which I maintain is a bit odd since there is no wood in the tank.. I can only assume they are using the cardboard for building materials.

 

It toke 4 days to get them to eat and expande their nest. They are very adaptable and easy to carefore.

 

I do not know if it was due to the workers requring this time to reorganised themselves in their new setting.. Or if it was the younger captive born workers that has matured and now starts doing the work the older ones no longer are doing. The older workers might just be flying around, doing nothing. Not able to adjust to captivity.

33753210.png

 

I discovered that they had gnaw out a part of the roach as they worked on the other.

untit32312321led.png

 

cimg5447.jpg

 

untitl32131ed.png

 

I put their meat-food nest to the honey to make it easier for them to locate their prey. Two dead worker lay in the honey, I will reduce the amount of honey I serve at once.

unti32321tled.png

 

Workers continue to expand upon the nest. Notice huge size difference between the workers.

untitlefsdfsdfsdd.png

 

untitl3231231ed.png

 

60150498.png

 

untitl321321ed.png

 

Breakfast.

cimg5461.jpg

 

Motivated by their sudden apetit I went and bought 10 crickets. I am slightly concerned that their hunger was only temporary and that they wont continue to eat.

cimg5450n.jpg

 

Yellow jacket are flying predators, so to give them a natural situation I impaled a dead cricket on a stick and put it up over the ground. I know from last year yellow jacket eat dead as well as live prey, maybe preferably dead prey.

cimg5446c.jpg

 

It takes around 20 seconds for the first worker to start to explore the cricket.

untitle3232131d.png

 

un3231231titled.png

 

untit32321led.png

 

untit3232131led.png

 

Worker dricking the fluids dripping from the crickets broken head casing.

untitle323123321d.png

 

un32131titled.png

 

After alittle while the cricket falls of the stick, it does not however discourage the workers which quickly go after it.

untifsdfsfsdtled.png

 

I give them a few crickets.

84582191.png

 

unt32312312itled.png

 

Worker carrying home the head.

ufdsfsdfntitled.png

 

A worker can be seen gnawing on a neutralized cricket in the background.

ufdfsdsdntitled.png

 

Worker numbers attracted by the prey increases.

untifdfdstled.png

 

ufdfdsntitled.png

 

The workers come and go in intervalls of around 2-5min. They chew off as big part they can carry, return home with it, then come back to the prey.

udsdasdntitled.png

 

Crickets almost gone, they eat 3 today.

cimg5468.jpg

 

cimg5467t.jpg

 

I am planning to put some wood into the container.

cimg5472c.jpg

 

untitle32131231d.png

 

I wait until it becomes dark outside then I shut off the lights and only use the dim light of my iphone to see..

It is bright enough for me to see, but not brigth enough for them to see. And thus not to fly.

cimg5471q.jpg

 

cimg5471q.jpg

 

Done.

cimg5474.jpg

 

A night snack for the colony.

cimg5461.jpg

 

cimg5476o.jpg

 

Nest from below.

74035560.png

 

 

Video

 

 

Notering.

Crickets are actually fairly expensive, feeding a colony on bought insects would probably be an economic pain.. I will attempt to feed them meat tomorrow, hopefully they'll accept it. That would make it much more economically feasible to keep a large colony.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazing the temperament difference between the vespula from Europe and those that illegally came over here. The ones here will attack you if you so much as look at them funny.

 

Just a quick word on meat, a diet consisting only of meat may cause problems or nutrition deficiencies. so try to vary the diet if you can, on that note it would be really cool if you could have two nests of this species and raise one purely on meats and the other with a varied diet and see what differences occur.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

29-7-2012

 

Dag 5

 

I put a honey container above the nest, the meshed metal ventilation is right above. So I should be able to drop the honey straight down into the container, instead of dripping it on their nest. Which possible can cause damaged to the nest and cause larvae to fall down, as well as getting workers stuck in the honey.

39142505.png

 

Some pictures of the nest, they have not begun to fetch wood yet, I am beginning to wonder if I am using the wrong type of wood.

19659693.png

 

untitldsdased.png

 

untitldsaed.png

 

Today I will feed them chicken meat instead of insects, rumour has it that yellow jackets are quite fond of chicken meat. To be able to feed them store bought meat instead of insects would be very nice. Especially in winter when insects are impossible to find execpt in zoo stores. I bought the most expensive chicken meat I could find, hoping it to be free from weird chemicals.

cimg5480.jpg

 

I chopped off a little piece and gave it to them, if they eat this, then 2kg of meat will last forever.

cimg5478.jpg

 

Initially the workers dispaly no interest.

cimg5479.jpg

 

Thought, the more the meat un-freezes in the warmth, the more workers find it.

 

After 15min.

cimg5482m.jpg

 

I composed a music video for workers love for chicken meat. :)

 

 

Notering.

I am again bothered that this setup is sub-optimal for these wasps. I should not have put the nest in the same tank as their foraging area.. Now it is for example hard to put in new food, to clean out to change decorations without pissing off the guard workers.

 

The entire tank is now within their "defense zone." Which is very unpractical. And as the nest is exposed all the time to the light, without enclosing paper walls around the combs, and without being underground. It causes a lot of workers that would otherwise be in the nest to fly around attracted to the light, which is very annoying. And it surly is a drain on the colonies energy.

 

This species of yellow jacket(Vespula vulgaris) is also subterranean as mentioned before, so I imagine they might find it slightly unnatural to be so high up. This is more a location suitable for Dolichovespula.

 

I will begin on constructing a new separate container for the nest as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow. When the colony is moved to the new container, I plan to connect it to the big tank, letting it be their foraging area. And as these species is subterranean I hope they will have no problems finding their way throught plastic tubing.

 

To have the nest in a separate container would also be practical if I wanted to move the colony, maybe to a new forage tank or maybe outside, if I say went for vacationf or a week, I could simply put their nest-container outside while I was gone. I would only need to move the container instead of ripping down the nest and gluing it up somewhere else..

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

31-7-2012

 

Day 6.

 

I thought I would give the workers some variation. Now they need to chew, fly and keep their balance at once. :)

cimg5506g.jpg

 

It does not take long before some workers start to inspect the new object in their territory.

cimg5512.jpg

 

*The cockroaches are naturally dead before they are impaled.

cimg5509p.jpg

 

cimg5507g.jpg

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Construction of their new nest-container.

 

Materials:

1 Plastic aquarium bought from a zoo store - 120kr.

1 Mealting thingy bought from "Clas Ohlson" - 69kr.

1 Tube of aquarium silcone bought from a zoo store - 79kr.

1 Gluegun bought from Clas Ohlson - 40kr.

3 Glass bought from a "glassmastery" - 200kr.

2 Unidentified black thingies bought from antstore - 20kr.

1 Metal mesh bought from "Granngården" - 70kr för 1m2.

 

It is important to use aquarium silicone and not regular silicone as this can container chemicals such as antibacterial which may be toxic to insects.

 

I bought an medium size plastic aquarium and I turned it upside down.

10560570.png

 

Then I bought some cheap mealting thingy, with which I can use to easily cut throught the plastic.

cimg5487w.jpg

 

The mealting thingy cuts throught the aquarium plastic very easy, the only problem is the stink of it.

cimg5489.jpg

 

cimg5490.jpg

 

First piece done. I plan to cut 3 openings in the tank and put glass there instead, the glass makes it easier so see throught, and it does not scratch as easy as plastic does. And with a little luck I will be able to re-used it many times. One of the pieces of glass will be anti-reflection glass.

cimg5491.jpg

 

One piece gone.

cimg5492d.jpg

 

cimg5493h.jpg

 

Time for the side.

cimg5494.jpg

 

Done. :)

cimg5495.jpg

 

And the final piece removed.

cimg5496o.jpg

 

Now I will melt holes where the entrance will be.

cimg5497v.jpg

 

Results.

cimg5498n.jpg

 

I don't know what this thing is called ,but it is central in the nest construction. Thanks to this thing, I don't need to worry about the tubing falling out, or not fitting, or that I must put cotton to fill out the gaps. For your own sake and for the wasps sake it is important that you have a setup that is as stable as possible. This is true when keeping ants too. But extra important when keeping yellow jackets. The yellow jacket does not want to sting you, and you do not want to get stung, but if your setup is instable, you might not give them a choice.

cimg5535x.jpg

 

cimg5500.jpg

 

Inside.

cimg5501l.jpg

 

cimg5502m.jpg

 

I also cut out openings in the roof area. The biggest opening I will use to drop honey on the nest, as well as ventilation.

cimg5503y.jpg

 

Metalmesh net for the ventilation, mosquito nets and such they would chew straight throught.

cimg5504b.jpg

 

cimg5505.jpg

 

This is how the container looks now, before the glass is in place.

cimg5514r.jpg

 

cimg5513k.jpg

 

This is where it will stand if all goes as planned.

cimg5527p.jpg

 

cimg5528.jpg

 

From above.

cimg5529.jpg

 

The side.

cimg5530.jpg

 

Time to attach the glass.

cimg5535x.jpg

 

Everything went well. Now I will wait 2 days for the silicone fumes to dissipate, then I will move the yellow jackets in.

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.1-8-2012

 

Day 7.

 

Perhaps I overdid it alittle. I decided to continue manually feeding the colony by putting honey directly on the nest instead of using the other thing on top of their nest.

undsdatitled.png

 

Some workers looking out.

ufsdfsdntitled.png

 

I tried giving them some fruit, apples was very popular for some reason. Perhaps honey is not giving them all the nutrients they need. In the future I must be sure to include some more fruit in their diet. Oranges was not popular at all however..

untitle32131d.png

 

udsdaqtitled.png

 

The cockroaches.

53115584.png

 

95774677.png

 

untitl321312ed.png

 

54037731.png

 

untitlefdfdsd.png

 

untitlefdsfsd.png

 

Here is a problem I am facing this is how it can look a normal day, when the sun shines.. Around 80 workers will fly around randomly, attracted by the light.. I think/hope this problem is caused by having the nest in their foraging tank. And that their nest having no paper enclosure around it.. If they were not so directly exposed to light, the workers would probably stay in the nest.. I hope this problem will be solved once I move their nest to another container.

34352073.png

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1-8-2012

 

Day 8.

 

Honey on the nest, as usual. Just another breakfeast.

untfdsfsditled.png

 

untitlefdsfdsd.png

 

I have so far not observe the workers harvest any wood to expand their nest.. I had the same problem last year, they hunted, drank honey, collected their prey and feed the larve.. But they did not harvest wood.. All they do is cannibalize their combs to build on the base of their nest.. I will today test to give them some other parts of their nest and see how they responde, perhaps they will recycle the materials. If so it may be worth to save the nest waste materials to give to the colony at a later time for quick expansions of the nest.

67175791.png

 

untitl3211ed.png

 

undsadastitled.png

 

The workers pull out larve and pupae from their cells and kills them and chews them up.

undsadadtitled.png

 

Finally I saw what I have been wanting to see for a long time.. On the picture it looks like a dead worker.. But actually, it is a worker harvesting soft rotten wood from the dirt..It toke 8 days, but finally they are harvesting wood. To expand their nest.

untitlfdsdfed.png

 

The darker parts of the wood is visible on the nest.

untitlfdfsdfed.png

 

Midnight snack.

cimg5567m.jpg

 

 

Note.

This species appears to prefer rotten soft wood, and not the hard and fresh wood I offered the first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3-8-2012

 

Day 9

 

Today it is time to move the colony to its new container. I plan to kill all old workers and replace them with captive born workers.This way there will be now old workers left only fresh workers. This is an experiment to see if the captive born adapt better or if the same behavior remains

 

First step is to remove the queen drop protection. So I can access the nest.

cimg5573.jpg

 

The colony from below, the next step is to remove the workers.

cimg5578.jpg

 

A bit of breakfeast still remains.

cb3f0b83.png

 

Few workers remain.

untitfdfsdfled.png

 

More workers removed.

cimg5585.jpg

 

Now it is only newly hatched workers, inside workers, and the queen left.

cimg5584f.jpg

 

Enough workers have been removed to take the nest down. The inside wasps wont fight.

untitlfdfsdfsed.png

 

The cardboard platform was glued harder to the glass then I execpted, but with alittle effort and dedicated I managed to get it down. Now comes the next problem, removing the queen without damagint her or the combs. Last time it toke 3h.. The queen is hiding between the first and second comb.

cimg5590l.jpg

 

I discovred that by softly patting the nest with my hand, causing viberations, I could get the queen to run out.. Sadly I became a bit overenthusiastic, and pattet the nest so hard the lower comb broke lose. It was much looser then I execpted. Vespula vulgaris simply do not build hardy stuff.

untitldsadasdaed.png

 

Oh well, atleast the queen cannot hide now..

cimg5591o.jpg

 

This is how the first comb looks from below, oddly the cells grow shorter and shorter the closer to the core you get. This was were the queen hide before that made it so hard to get her out.

untifdfsftled.png

 

Despite being exposed the queen is still not easily captured, I try to lead her into a jar without touching her so I wont hurt her, thought she is very fast for her size, much faster then workers.Drottining är ändå inte så lätt att fånga, jag försöker leda henne in i en burk och undvika att röra henne så hon inte blir skadad, dock är hon väldigt snabb för att vara så stor, mycket snabbare än de andra.

untfdfdsfitled.png

 

Only the queen and som newly hatched workers remain.

unfdfdstitled.png

 

Finally I managed to capture the queen and put her away while I fix her new nest. This is how the nest looks without the other comb.

udsadantitled.png

 

This is how the nest looked with the comb.

untitdsdsaded.png

 

The black rotten wood is visible.

untitdsdadsaled.png

 

Newly laid eggs in the new cells, the queen is working well.

untitfdsfdsled.png

 

Time to prepare their new container and the foraging tank for the change.

untitfdfdsfdled.png

 

I put cardboard at the bottom of their nest-container. So that they will get closer to the exit, and also so they wont understand that they can actually chew their way out throught. And also to avoid that their feces falls to the floor and throught the slides in the bottom lid and unto my desk.

cimg5600.jpg

 

cimg5601z.jpg

 

Some changes in the foraging tank.

cimg5605w.jpg

 

I have order a new glass sliding door with a hole in it from the glassmastery.

cimg5602.jpg

 

Tank ready.

untidfsdfsfdtled.png

 

Time to attached the nest itself to their new tanks roof. I have made several small holes in the cardboard so it will stick better. I will use them to pour glue into.

undsadasdtitled.png

 

The nest will be glued up so part of it sticks out, that way honey can be dripped right on their nest.

untitdsadsaled.png

 

Done.

ufdfsdfdtitled.png

 

Now I will wait for 2 hours while the flan belows into the container to remove any fumes. Then I will put the queen back with her new workers.

cimg5597o.jpg

 

Hm? Odd dazed insects flee the comb..

cimg5611.jpg

 

Some sort of parasite I assume.. I have seen these before.

untdsdsaitled.png

 

I am also construcing a new queen-dropp-guard to prevent the queen from falling down as before.. If she does it inside the new container. It will be hard to get her up to the nest again.

cimg5598.jpg

 

This is how it looks now. I also place the queen guard. My hope is that they will walk on the ramp and not on the glass, which will dirty the glass, and degrade the ability to see what is going on inside.

dsdasda.png

 

cimg5609t.jpg

 

Continue -->

Edited by Strifer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Continue

 

Now 2 hours has passed and I am ready to put the queen and her workers on their new nest. Queen first.

untitlefdsfsdd.png

 

Her new workers I will take from the comb I saved since earlier. Around 20 new workers hatch everyday. I have put these inthe cooler at around 8C this way I have hundreds of spare workers to call from should I need them. In room temp, 20 new workers hatch each day, the the cooler perhaps two a month. It takes around 2-3 days before a newly hatched worker becomes fully functional.(Being able to fly,sting etc)

60993356.png

 

cimg5579w.jpg

 

Newly hatched workers.

ufdsfsntitled.png

 

untifdsfdsfsled.png

 

untitlfdfsded.png

 

untidsdastled.png

 

I feed the workers before I put them in their new nest.

untitfdfsdled.png

 

dsadundsadasdtitled.png

 

Before the workers was put in place, the queen was nervous and constantly running around, once the workersa are put on the nest, the queen begins to huddle with them and calms down.

untitldfsdfsdfed.png

 

Queen huddling with the workers.

cimg5620x.jpg

 

cimg5619q.jpg

 

After being alone in the jar she is desperate for alittle attention. :)

untitlesdsadad.png

 

untitldsdsaed.png

 

47817653.png

 

These workers are very active for newborns, but they cannot fly or sting so it is not really a problem. They tend to challange you when they see you, and then when you do not run away, they run away instead.

untidsadsadsatled.png

 

Everything done! Queen on, workers on, Queen-drop-guard on. This is how it turned out.

untifdfsded.png

 

External prespective.

cimg5608.jpg

 

Now I only need to wait a few days for the workers to mature. And hopefully they will be able to find their way into the foraging tank using the tubes.

 

 

Note.

Sadly I did not have more tubing. I had to put a few tubes togheter, that did not fit perfectly. This is bad because the workers will becomeconfused if they encounter hurdles and shifts in the tube and they might turn back, I will attempt to find a longer tube later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now