Wasp making a bubble of water. Pic credit Lim Choo How

This is slightly off topic from our usual post about Giant Bubbles, but we've just had a cool 'learning' couple of weeks and we thought we'd share.

Over the past month we've had an amazing  wasp nest being built in our shed here at Bubble HQ.  This beautiful paper structure started off the size of a small orange, and built and built.   For quite a while we were happy cohabiting - but as this was close to our production area, and where we use saws and other power tools, the increasing traffic of hundreds of wasps became a bit of a health and safety issue.  And so the wasp nest had to be dealt with.

A quick google, will tell you that to get rid of a wasps nest you need pest control, and that there are companies (and the council) who can help.  'Pest control'  involves spraying the nests with pesticide, and literally killing the queen and the colony, which in our case  was about 1000+ individuals. 

We all know what a crisis is happening with our insect populations - and especially with bees.   And it is common knowledge that bees are essential for pollination.  They are seen as the good guys, we'll go out of our way to make sugar water when they're in need.  Wasps on the other hand?  A well known pest.  

However did you know that wasps are specialist pollinators?  They pollinate plants that bees can't, some that simply wouldn't be pollinated without them.  And did you know that they are key to keeping our aphid populations under control?  I've found out this and much more this week.  Turns out wasps are pretty cool.

AND we found out that wasps make BUBBLES!!  If their nests get too humid, they can remove extra moisture by collecting water into bubble like droplets to remove it.  How cool?? No WONDER they liked living here!  (pic credit Lim Choo How)

As you know, here at Dr Zigs we do champion nature and do strive to find the most environmentally sound options what ever we are engaging in.  Including Wasp Nest removal.

So, we were keen to find an alternative way to deal with these.  We spent a good week calling round pest control companies, two beekeepers (one of whom came out with all the gear, ready to spray), and got advice from friends and specialists online.  All of them suggested that the only safe alternative, for a nest that size was pesticide.  One friend suggested smoking them out with a bowl of green branches, but by then there were too many wasps, and this seemed a rather risky option.

Eventually, through the power of social media,the 'hive mind', we found a beekeeper who instantly suggested relocation. 

Katie, from Felin Honey Bees, arrived the day after we called.  She told us she would come in the late evening, once the wasps were dozy and resting.  Did you know wasps don't fly at night?  She put a special loose bag over the nest (with all the dozing wasps!), and then scraped the nest carefully and keeping it intact, off the wooden beam, and into a special traveling box. 

The travelling box

She then relocated the wasps into a local woodland  - making sure they were at a safe distance from any other wasp nests (they're territorial creatures). 

It's wonderful to know that the disturbance to these amazing insects was minimum, that wasp need not be destroyed, and that there is a safe, environmentally friendly solution to dealing with wasps when our daily lives get too intertwined.

It did take some effort, but hopefully, for any of you reading this it will simply be a case of calling round friendly beekeepers to find someone willing.  As for the cost?  It was identical.   

And also, I know none of you will think of wasps in the same way ever again - now you know that they too can make bubbles!

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