Do Hornets Like Honey? The Hornet’s ‘Complicated Attraction’ to Honey

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Honey is great for many things. It’s a snack, a cooking ingredient and a medicine for minor health problems. This golden mixture of nectar and nature may be coveted by both humans and animals, but not all six-legged creatures eat it.

Which begs the question, do hornets like honey? Is this something that hornets would eat? Or is this substance exclusive only to the bees? Find out how hornets can be both attracted and not attracted to honey.

Do Hornets Like Honey? The Hornet's 'Complicated Attraction' to Honey

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Hornets don’t make the usual honey

Bees produce honey by collecting nectar from various flowers. And it has one purpose, to feed the entire colony.

The same thing is done by some species of hornets. However, they don’t make the typical sweet amber stuff that we often see packed inside a yellow plastic bear.

These hornets make their own kind of honey through doing what they know best, hunting. Since these insects are predators that can feed on other insects, they have a very unusual way of making honey.

According to Wasp-removal.com, these hornets catch their prey, tear them into small parcels and fly them back to the nest. These tiny food “take-outs” are then eaten by their grubs. The “honey” is made when the larvae use their stomachs to turn the exoskeletons of those insects fed to them into a sugary secretion. They then feed this back to the fully-grown hornets to sustain them. This substance has sugars and amino acids, so it encourages the adult workers keep feeding the grubs.

Hornets eat bee honey

In some situations, hornets actually look for bee honey. And since they don’t have any means of making it, they do what most predators would – they steal it.

Being natural born killers, hornets and even other kinds of wasps are known to attack honeybees and raid their waxy food storage.

It starts with a scout. This hornet looks for beehives and marks them with a pheromone for identification. It then reports back to its nest and brings more hornets to invade and devastate the marked beehives.

This large-scale robbery usually happens when food is scarce. The honey bees are too small to fight off the gigantic hornets, so their colony suffers major casualties on the assault. Sometimes, all of them even get wiped out.

Here’s an intense video from National Geographic that demonstrates how fierce hornets can be when it comes to getting honey.

Honey traps don’t work well for hornets

The hornet’s relationship with honey is really complicated. There are times when it will attack an entire hive just to get, and there are other times when it will completely ignore it.

It turns out that hornets are not as attracted to honey compared to the sugar-and-vinegar mixture. That’s because vinegar has a more powerful odor that these insects can pick up in the air. The mixture exudes a playful blend of sweet and sour scents which is makes it more alluring to hornets.

Another reason that highlights the ineffectiveness of honey traps are the bees, themselves. These little bugs can accidentally find their way into the trap and get killed. You shouldn’t kill bees since they help with plant reproduction. Some of them are even endangered.

So the next time you set up a trap and ask Do hornets like honey? Know that these creatures may like a drop or two of that amber goodness, but that’s not always the case. They may eat it when times are tough and food is scarce. But when they’re given other options, they’ll choose those. In other words, it’s more effective to use a bait that can always attract hornets.