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I'm staying at my mum and dad's in Somerset and we too have just noticed this phenomenon today. Bizarre! And that's how I ended up on here, looking for answers. So many wasps and large blue bottle type flies. They appear to be licking the leaves and don't seem bothered by me, except when I walk past the Bay quickly, they all swarm and then get back to business on the plant once I've passed. Most odd, but I think the honey dew answer is the most likely. No signs of aphids at all. Lots of ants, which are probably after the same sticky sweet coating.
They are all after honeydew! A mild soapy wash will clean your trees/bushes.
Wasps don't hunt at this time of year, they are after something sweet, whether that's honey, fermented apples or aphid poo.
We too have a small bay tree covered in wasps which are licking away at the top side of the leaves and after a while when they try to fly off are falling to the ground as if drunk, it then takes them a while to see to come to and try to drunkenly fly off - very weird sight !!
At least they are too plastered to bother us or sting us.
...PS I didn't get a chance to finish my post when it vanished..........
I wanted to say that watching the bay trees is like watching a pub full of drunks fighting for the last pint of beer .