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Dragonflies vs Bees: Do Dragonflies Eat Bees?

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Do Dragonflies Eat Bees

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Every beekeeper must know about the predators that can be a threat to their bees. Among beekeepers, there is a concern that is do dragonflies eat bees?

The answer is yes but not all types of dragonflies can eat bees. Also, this is not on their favorite targeted food list. That’s what I am going to reveal throughout this post.

At the end of the post, you will be clear about the conflict between Dragonflies vs Bees. I will also share what should you do to protect your bees from them. Actually, I will tell you the things that I mostly do to protect my colonies from predators.

 

 

 

What Is A Dragonfly?

Dragonfly is a flying insect that is of the order Odonata. They have around 3,000 known species around the world. They are mostly tropical and some of them are temperature-sensitive.

They are various in size. Their body has mainly 3 parts like other insects and bees. Head, Thorax, & Abdomen. Their main feature is they have large compound eyes in their head.

Dragonfly Body parts

 

They have a more powerful vision than humans. They can observe 360° around them. They can also detect and watch through UV light.

Dragonflies have various sizes. They can be from a few cm to as large as more than 5 inches.

They have various colors including green, yellow, black, blue, brown, etc. They hold their wings horizontally always. You can learn more details about dragonflies here.

 

 

 

Do Dragonflies Pollinate Plants?

As dragonflies are seen to sit on flowers people often think do they pollinate? The straight answer is no. Dragonflies do not eat flower pollens so they don’t pollinate. Yes, they can be attracted by different colors of flowers. But they do not eat flowers and are not pollinating insects like bees.

Dragonflies are beneficial for our nature. So, you can attract them to your garden with different types of flowers. But you can’t expect that they will pollinate your plants in the garden.

 

 

 

What Kind Of Foods Do Dragonflies Eat?

Dragonflies are carnivorous. So, they can eat any smaller insects that they can prey on. Their favorite food is mosquitos. They can also eat other small insects like beetles, moths, ants, flies, butterflies, and insects that live in water. Even large dragonflies can consume other small dragonflies too.

I have seen dragonflies flying over the pond which is at the front of my village house. I noticed that they sometimes jump over the top water level and catch aquatic insects like
mayflies, water bugs, baetidae, etc.

They are one of the most efficient hunters among all of the insects around the world. They are around 95% times successful in catching their target to consume.

 

 

Why Do Dragonflies Eat Other Dragonflies?

It is really cruel to hear that any creature can consume its own creatures. Giant dragonflies can sometimes consume small ones. This is actually rare but I have seen this in my own eyes.

During winter I have seen this phenomenon. A large dragonfly is sitting on a small tree branch and eating the head of a small dragonfly.

There could be various reasons behind it. But the most suitable reason behind this may be due to the lack of food sources around. Sometimes there might be a scarcity of food sources around.

In this case, for the sake of survival large dragonflies might need to eat the small ones. There could be plenty of other possible reasons behind it.

 

 

 

What Do Dragonflies Eat Besides Bugs?

There are plenty of food sources that dragonflies prey and these are not actually bugs. Those include ants, small cockroaches, beetles, moths, and so many more.

As dragonflies are carnivorous they do not solely depend on a specific type of food. They can prey on anything that is within their range. So, they will eat any small bugs, insects, or even animals if it is within its range.

 

 

Do Dragonflies Eat Bees?

Yes, dragonflies can eat bees. Dragonflies are often seen around beehives. So, when they find any bee that is out of the hive they will try to catch it. During Its flight, if any bee is come close to the dragonfly it will attack the bee and will consume it.

 

Do dragonfly eat bees
Dragonfly Eating A Bee [Source: Flickr Owner: Brian Huss]

I have seen several times giant dragonflies flying around my beehive. I didn’t give much importance to the fact at the beginning.

But then suddenly I start noticing several dead bees on the ground. Some of the bees don’t have their upper half-bodies. At first, I thought that there might be mice or earwigs inside the hive. I was worried that these might be responsible for this.

But then I discovered that those dragonflies flying around my hives caused the damage. I was still confused and asking myself Do dragonflies really eat bees?

The next day while dragonflies flying around my hive, I was standing a little far away from them. I saw the following phenomenon.

  • A bee was coming to the hive after collecting pollen from flowers.
  • A dragonfly flies to her and catches her with it’s leg.
  • First, it attacks her head. Using it’s strong mandible it breaks her body into 2 parts.
  • Then it flies away with her upper body and the lower body is lifted on the ground.
  • The dragonfly sits on a tree branch and eats the bee with the help of its legs and mandible.

Then I reached the conclusion that dragonflies do eat bees. They attack the head of its prey and then using her legs hold the prey. Then pour the victim’s body parts into its mouth. Using its mandible and tongue it swallows the prey.

 

The most frustrating thing was dragonfly ate one of my queens while she was on the flight for mate. As you know a queenless hive won’t survive long without the queen. So, I had to try one of the common methods that I used to requeen a queenless hive.

 

 

 

Do Dragonflies Like Honey?

No, dragonflies actually do not like honey. I saw them catching my bees that were out of the hive. They didn’t attack the hive. They have no intention of eating honey. So, it is confirmed that they don’t have any interest in eating honey.

Dragonflies can eat bees. They also eat brood bees. But they do not eat honey. Because they are carnivorous. So, they like meats. Not other things like honey.

So, if you even thinking of attracting dragonflies in your garden with honey, it’s not going to work. Dragonflies are not attracted to honey or similar things. But they can get attracted to a place where lots of mosquitos, beetles, or similar types of bugs and insects are present.

 

 

 

Are There Insects That Dragonflies Do Not Eat?

Though dragonflies are carnivorous, they even can’t eat all insects. Insects like giant water bugs, large dragonflies, and other larger insects.

Even giant water bugs consume dragonflies. While dragonflies try to catch aquatic insects or bugs from ponds giant water bugs catch & eat them. There are a lot of similar types of bugs and insects that can prey on dragonflies.

So, dragonflies can’t eat them. Instead they try to keep themselves away from those insects.

 

 

What Are The Other Natural Predators Of Honey Bees?

Predators Of Honey Bees
Predators Of Honey Bees

 

There a countless amount of predators that can harm your honey bee colony. Dragonflies can consume honey bees. Also, the following are the other natural predators of honey bees.

  1. Bears.
  2. Skunks.
  3. Raccoons.
  4. Giant Lizards.
  5. Opossums.
  6. Argentine ant.
  7. Reptiles.
  8. Small mammals.
  9. Mites.
  10. Spiders.

There are a lot of other predators that can harm your beehives. These are the well-known predators of honey bees. These predators are mainly attracted to honey and honey bee larvae.

Honey consume all type of nutrients. Also, the bee broods are also rich in protein and other nutrients. For this reason, several predators attacks honey bee colony.

You have to be careful about them. Take the necessary steps to protect your honey bee colony from different predators.

 

 

 

How To Protect Bees From Dragonflies

Hopefully, now you have the answer to your question do dragonflies eat bees? Well, dragonflies can eat bees. In most cases, honey bees can produce plenty more bees than the number of bees consumed by dragonflies.

So, in case there are only a small number of dragonflies seen around your beehive, you might not have to be worried. But if there are a lot of dragonflies in your region, that could be a serious problem.

A dragonfly might not eat more than one bee per day. Also, they do not often eat bees. But what if they eat the queen when she is on the flight for a mating session? Obviously, that could be worse for you.

This is why like other predators you should be concerned about dragonflies. When I discovered dragonfly was causing damage to my honey bee colony. I have taken some steps that really worked well.

It takes some time but I successfully get rid of dragonflies around my honey bee colony. You can also try those things. Here is what you can do to get rid of dragonflies around your beehive.

  1. Invite Birds: Not all of the birds consume honey bees. But there are plenty of other birds that can eat dragonflies and are not interested in honey bees. Such birds include Green heron, Tree swallow, Dusky flycatcher, etc.
  2. Cats: Yes cats love to catch dragonflies who are close to the ground. So, you can have cats in your garden that will catch dragonflies.
  3. Bats: Bats are also natural deterrents of dragonflies.
  4. Reduce Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are dragonflies’ favorite food. So, you should reduce mosquitoes around your beehives.
  5. Remove Bushes: Bushes are the perfect place for mosquitoes, dragonflies, and other insects to live. So, dragonflies will get attracted to such places. This is why you should remove all bushes around your beehives.
  6. Remove Water Spots: You should try to remove all small water sources around your beehive. Like water stored in the ground after rain, water in flower pots, etc. These clean water sources are most suitable for mosquito reproduction. So, you should remove them.

After taking these steps it is expected to get rid of dragonflies. I have taken all of these steps and reduced the number of dragonflies around my beehives. If these still do not solve your problem, you can get help from pest control specialists.

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dragonflies vs Bees

 

Do dragonflies eat wasps

Yes, dragonflies can eat wasps besides bees as well. They can prey only small size wasps like hornets, small yellow jackets, etc.

Do dragonflies eat ants

Yes, dragonflies also prey on ants. There are some types of flying ants. These are on the dragonfly’s prey list. Dragonfly nymphs sometimes catch ground ants too.

Do dragonflies eat butterflies

As dragonflies are carnivorous they will eat anything they can prey. So, they will also eat butterflies if it is within their range. So, yes they will also eat butterflies if they can catch it.

 

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