We developed 52 microsatellite loci for the wasp, Polybioides tabidus, for the purpose of studying the evolution and inclusive fitness consequences of swarm-founding. The large number of loci is important for three reasons that may apply to many other systems. Heterozygosity was low in our target species, yet we found enough polymorphic loci for accurate kinship studies in this species. Many monomorphic loci were polymorphic in other polistine wasps, making comparative studies possible. Finally, enough loci amplified over a broad range of species to add a historical dimension. We sequenced six loci in other polistine wasps and used the flanking sequences to construct a phylogeny. Based on this phylogeny, we infer that swarm-founding has evolved independently three times in the polistine wasps.