Do Spiders Eat Bees? How Do Spiders Attract Bees?

Last updated on October 7th, 2022

Do spiders eat bees? Bees that are caught in a spider’s web will be injected with a paralyzing substance which makes it easier for the arachnid to devour its prey. It is known that spiders only eat the head and thorax of bees because they discard the wings and stingers since these aren’t edible.

If you have seen a bee trapped in a spider’s web, do not be surprised because several species of spiders are known to eat bees.

However, I did not know that spiders eat bees until I saw a video of a bee trapped in a spider’s web. I was under the impression that the bee would manage to escape from the spider’s web, but I found that the more it tried to escape, the more it got trapped.

How do spiders attract bees?

Interestingly, spiders often build silk webs reflecting the sun’s rays to confuse the bees. According to a study done by Catherine Craig and Gary Bernard, these webs are attractive to insects since they appear to be patches of open sky to the eyes of insects.

In the case of the crab spiders, these arachnids have evolved a completely different approach to hunting bees.

A crab spider will stay hidden in a flower’s petals while it reflects the sun’s Ultra Violet rays, making the flower more attractive to the bees.

When a bee sits on a flower, unaware that a crab spider is by the flower, it will get ambushed, and the arachnid will devour the bee.

crab spider eating bee 03042022

Do bees get caught in spider webs?

Certain species of garden spiders such as the wolf spider and the crab spider are known to eat bees that get caught in their webs.

When the bees get caught in the webs, you will find that the spiders will wait until the bees die before it starts eating the insect.

If the bee is too big for the regular garden spiders, the insect can fight back if the spider attacks too early.

Hence, it has to wait for the bee to die before it can consume the insect.

How to save a bee from a spider’s web?

If you see a bee trapped in a spider’s web and want to save it, you must first try to scoop it out from the underside.

Doing so will protect you from getting stung by the bee and prevent it from getting utterly entangled in the cobweb.

Once you have saved the bee, keep it in a place where it is safe from other predators. You will find that the bee will slowly remove all the cobwebs from its body and fly away (hopefully to not get captured again).

What part of the bee do spiders eat?

Spiders are known to eat the head and the thorax of a bee, however, they will discard the wings and the stinger.

Crab spiders are known to bite off the head of the bee and devour it. 

Spiders are pretty intelligent arachnids; hence, you will find that they eat only those parts of a bee that will provide them with sufficient energy.

How do crab spiders kill bees?

The manner in which crab spiders use to bring down a bee is quite interesting. Once the spider has ambushed the bee, it needs to kill it quickly before it can escape.

Hence, the moment the spider jumps on the bee, it will hold on to the bee with its jaws and inject a paralytic chemical into the bee.

This paralyzes and disables the bee, making it easier for the arachnid to devour its prey.

Can spiders be considered one of the primary predators of bees?

If you ask beekeepers what is the most dangerous pest when it comes to beekeeping, rarely will they say spiders.

The primary reason is that except for a few particular species of spiders, bees do not form a part of their regular diet.

In most cases, praying mantises are known to be the most common predator of bees.

In addition, giant Asian hornets are known to attack bee colonies and decapitate the bees. They will then fly away with the bees’ thoraxes to feed their young ones.

But when it comes to spiders, they will eat bees occasionally and only if the insect gets caught in its web.

Can spiders harm your garden by killing bees?

Most amateur gardeners welcome bees as these insects are pollinators and help in ensuring that you have an excellent harvest of fruits and vegetables.

But when it comes to animals and other insects killing bees, you will find that spiders are not significant predators.

These arachnids do not cause major harm to pollinators.

But if you have a spider infestation in your garden, it can be dangerous for the plants and the bees.

In such a scenario, you will need to take steps to remove the arachnids from your garden.

Is it essential to take precautions against spiders while maintaining a bee colony?

Beekeepers will tell you that spiders are not the only predators you need to protect your bee colony.

But if you find dangerous spiders like the Black Widow or the tarantula near your bee colony, you must stake steps to protect the bees against these arachnids.

They are known to enter smaller beehives and chase the bees out of the hives before bringing down the insects.

In addition, smaller spiders can often wait outside the hive and attack a single bee. Hence, if you find spiders near your bee colony, you can take steps to protect the colony against the spiders.

Do crab spiders eat bees?

Crab spiders eat bees, wasps, and other similar insects. You will find that these spiders can hunt the bees stealthily and are known to bring down bees that are even larger than them in size.

The spiders eat bees because of the energy boost they receive from the insect.

According to entomologists, crab spiders usually hunt bees because they help keep the spider satiated for extended periods.

It also helps in meeting the nutritional requirement of the crab spider as well.

What insects do spiders eat?

Spiders can eat different insects like mosquitoes, flies, and other similar insects. They can even eat more giant insects than arachnid-like wasps and bees.

In Summary

Spiders do eat bees but they’ll discard the wings and stingers as these aren’t edible while consuming the head and thorax. Spiders will spin a few more webs around the bee caught in the web before injecting a paralyzing substance into the bee’s body making it easier for the arachnid to devour its prey.

Interested in learning more about the animals that eat bees? Check out that article for more information.

Further reading:
Indiana Public Media – Spiders Send Ultraviolet Signals to Insects
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – Crab Spiders

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