Location: Southern Tip of Texas – 8 miles from border. McAllen
January 18, 2011 5:36 pm
Found this guy in a huge nest in an oak tree in deep south Texas. Not much bigger than a housefly.
Signature: Bob G
This is a very exciting posting for us as it represents a new species for our site. This is a Mexican Honey Wasp, Brachygastra mellifica, and according to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on honey (3), and probably also pollen; this is unusual for vespids.” BugGuide also indicates the Mexican Honey Wasp is: “Eusocial, that is, highly social, with worker and reproductive castes. More than one queen per hive, and there are females present with ovaries intermediate in size between workers and queens. Form large colonies by swarming (coordinated groups of queens and workers). Store honey, but do not cap cells, as do bees. Nests are perennial, built in low trees, with as many as 50,000 cells.” BugGuide also states: “One of the very few insects other than bees to produce and store honey. Comment from Dr. Joan Strassmann, “They are docile a lot, but then they can explode, attacking en masse.“
My neighbor has small kids and called a bug company that came and removed the nest. It was huge. Two-three feet tall and about a foot wide.
Thanks so much for the info!!