Yellow jacket journal[3]

45 posts in this topic

Species : Vespula vulgaris.

Colony captured : 21/7/2012.

Journal youtube channel :


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.



V. vulgaris : Head/face appearance.


V. vulgaris : Backside marks.







Forum for wasp-keeping.



Two threads about wasp-keeping.






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.



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.





Video record at the wasps entrance.

Edited by Strifer

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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.






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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

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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.
























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.





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.




I hope you understand.

Edited by Strifer

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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.



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.





Here is much of the gear I will use.



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.



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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.





Captured wasp.






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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

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Well what happened?

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

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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.





Captured yellow jacket.










Entrance to the nest.

Edited by Strifer

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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

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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.



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.



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.





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.










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.



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





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.



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.



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.



Famished workers gorge themselves.



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





Nest container empty.












"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.



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.





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



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.





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





From below.



Continue -->

Edited by Strifer

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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.



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



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.









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.



Shape as an L to increase stability.



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



It is all glued togheter with a gluegun.


Final results.



It is finally time to glue up the nest itself.







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. :)



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



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.



Angry guard-worker stares into the camera.



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










"Inside" worker sticks out head.


The nest recently captured.



The nest recently captured.


Combs filled with pupae.




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

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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.





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.



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



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.



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.





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.



Some images of the queen.










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

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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.



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.











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.



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.



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.



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.





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



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.





Worker discarding defective pupae.









The queen.



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.











Worker looks out from the nest.





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..









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



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





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

"I see you..."



Night snack.








Edited by Strifer

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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.



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







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.



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












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.



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.



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









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





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



I give them a few crickets.





Worker carrying home the head.



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



Worker numbers attracted by the prey increases.





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.



Crickets almost gone, they eat 3 today.





I am planning to put some wood into the container.





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.








A night snack for the colony.





Nest from below.








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

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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.

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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.



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.







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.



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



Initially the workers dispaly no interest.



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


After 15min.



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




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

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Day 6.


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



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



*The cockroaches are naturally dead before they are impaled.







Construction of their new nest-container.



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.



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



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





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.



One piece gone.





Time for the side.



Done. :)



And the final piece removed.



Now I will melt holes where the entrance will be.






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.










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.



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





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





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





From above.



The side.



Time to attach the glass.



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

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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.



Some workers looking out.



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..





The cockroaches.













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.


Edited by Strifer

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Day 8.


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





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.







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



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.



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



Midnight snack.





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

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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.



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



A bit of breakfeast still remains.



Few workers remain.



More workers removed.



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



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



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.



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.



Oh well, atleast the queen cannot hide now..



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.



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.



Only the queen and som newly hatched workers remain.



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.



This is how the nest looked with the comb.



The black rotten wood is visible.



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



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



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.





Some changes in the foraging tank.



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



Tank ready.



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.



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






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.



Hm? Odd dazed insects flee the comb..



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



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.



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.





Continue -->

Edited by Strifer

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



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)





Newly hatched workers.









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





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.



Queen huddling with the workers.





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







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.



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



External prespective.



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.




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.

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