OUR bees are under attack by their most fearsome enemies. The wasps. They are ferocious enemies to the hives and only rivalled in their deadly attack on a bee hive by hornets.

This summer we have had a hornet nest in our loft. A fearsome, almost alien construction, I came upon it by accident. Clearing out some boxes of books in a corner of the loft, I noticed a large, white, papery mass under the eaves. And a low hum.

It is not the first time that our attic has been attractive to insects. Several years ago we had a bumble bee nest in almost exactly the same place. John managed to scoop that nest up with a shovel, and quickly, very quickly, shovel it into a sack, bees and all, to transport the nest several miles down the road to a wood so that the bees did not find their way back again.

But a hornet’s nest is a different thing. No mercy I am afraid. And they are enormous in comparison to a wasp. I had been finding a few in a bedroom below this loft space, but still did not know how they had found their way in. Through an open window I presumed.

Now when John used to find a hornet or wasp nest in the ground, he had rather a spectacular way of burning them out by pouring petrol down the hole. Then standing well back before throwing a match at it. But now he uses proprietary pest control products. They do take a lot longer to kill the pests, but I think they are preferable to pouring some petrol onto a hornet nest in the loft and then setting fire to it.

To stop the wasps robbing our bees, John has reduced the entrance into the hive from four inches to two and a half inches wide. This gives the bees a better chance of defending the hive against attackers and robbers, such as the wasps. The wasps, are after the honey, bees and larvae to feed their own young. It is a vicious world out there.

John has also fitted an open mesh floor to the bottom of the hive. This has an entrance that the wasps use as they think that they have found a secret way in. The bees do not use it as they stick to their own front door. But once the wasps go in what they think is the back door. They can’t get out. And then when the trap is full, my lovely husband gives me a nasty shock by putting the entire device in the freezer to kill them.