The production of honey is something that most people associate with bees, and they would be right to make this assumption. However, many people wrongly believe that all bees make honey, when it is typically only the honeybee that does as most other bees are solitary. In saying that, while honey making in abundance is typically associated with the honeybee, other bees – and even some wasps –can make honey (although most do not).
Can Wasps Make Honey?
The assumption that wasps cannot make honey is not true, even though most of them do not. Wasps prefer to feed on fruit, nectar, and even on other insects. Some will try to invade beehives and steal the honey inside if they can, but most do not go to the bother of making honey themselves.
That being said, there are a few species of wasp located in South and Central America that do produce honey. The most well-known honey-producing wasp is the Mexican honey wasp (the name being a dead giveaway, apparently…). However, despite producing honey, these wasps do not do so in large quantities. They simply make honey for their own consumption.
How Do Wasps Make Honey?
Wasps that make honey do so in the same way that bees do. They ingest the nectar from the flowers with their proboscis and then store it in their stomach before regurgitating it and chewing it until it has been converted to honey.
Is Wasp Honey Edible?
Honey produced by the Mexican honey wasp is edible, but it is rarely available for human consumption as so little of it is actually made. In some places, wasp honey is considered a delicacy and is said to be similar in taste to maple syrup.
Like bees, wasps are fierce defenders of their home but unlike bees, they have the capability to sting would-be predators a number of times. As you might imagine then, trying to harvest even the smallest amount of honey from a wasp nest is not a prospect many would relish.
Do Yellow Jackets Make Honey?
Perhaps the most well-known wasp in North America is the yellow jacket. This is the common yellow and black wasp that can be seen in American yards and homes when the weather gets warm. Yellow jackets do not make honey, preferring instead to eat nectar or other sugary items such as fruit or soda. They will also prey on other insects and will collect and chew this source of protein to feed to larvae back in their nest.
Do Wasps Do Anything Good?
As most wasps do not produce honey and are typically seen as pests by humans, it is natural to wonder if they do anything good. Because wasps love sugary food, they are often found hovering around trash cans, picnics, and outdoor eaters in the summertime. They love fruit and sugary drinks and are not afraid to land on a can of soda sitting on the ground, even if humans are around. It is this bold behavior that gives them a bad name.
However, you might be surprised to know that wasps are just as important to the ecosystem as bees are. Like bees, wasps are vital pollinators and without them we would be unable to grow certain food crops. In addition to pollinating our plants, wasps are also vital for pest control, feasting on insects such as whiteflies as well as caterpillars. They kill disease-carrying (for humans) insects such as mosquitos and help to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Most people assume honey production is the remit of bees and bees alone, but contrary to popular belief there are actually some species of wasp that can and do make honey, albeit in very small quantities. Wasp honey is edible but, because of its scarcity, is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.
Honey production is not the main job for wasps, but these insects are just as important as bees to the ecosystem, pollinating various crops and killing pests.