Bees can be frightening insects when they happen to be buzzing in your direction. Even if you are not allergic to bee stings you probably still move away quickly when one is nearby. After all, why risk the possibility of a painful sting. However, even bees themselves are afraid of certain insects, such as the beewolf. The beewolf is a perfect example of an insect that strikes fear into the hearts of bees, as well as other stinging insects. Beewolves, despite their name, are not actually bees; instead beewolves are wasps. Beewolves hunt bees, specifically honey bees. The manner in which beewolves dispatch their bee prey is particularly brutal.
Beewolves can be found in the United States, Europe and northern Africa. Beewolves are predators to numerous flying insects, including other wasp species. Beewolves get their name from their predatory behavior. The term “wolf” in the name “beewolf” indicates their preference for hunting like a wolf. Unlike many species of wasps, beewolves do not live within colonies or amongst other beewolves, except for females and their offspring. Beewolves live alone, and hunt alone, making them highly capable and versatile insects. During the late spring and early summer months female beewolves will dig tunnels into the ground. At the end of these tunnels the females will construct compartments that act as nurseries for the female's offspring. The female’s habit of digging shelter within soil has earned them the alternate nickname of “digger-wasps”. Once the female has completed its underground compartments it will begin to hunt.
The female beewolf will visit flowers in order to locate pollinating honeybees. The beewolf will also feed on plant nectar before capturing a honey bee. Sometimes the female will squeeze nectar from the body of an individual honey bee, but it won't kill the honey bee. The female beewolf will sting the bee between its legs in order to paralyze the bee. The female then deposits the paralyzed be in its nursery in order to feed the hungry larvae offspring. Each beewolf larvae requires several bee carcasses each day for sustenance. Female beewolves have been observed capturing five bees for each one of their larvae during single hunting sessions. Once the fall season rolls around, beewolf larvae will spend the winter developing into adults while safely tucked away below the ground.
Have you ever seen a beewolf before? Have you ever seen a flying insect carrying another insect in its mouth while flying?