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Animal Hazards : Bees & Wasps

Bees & Wasps

Bumble Bees

  • The common name of bumble bee possibly comes from their large appearance and/or the buzzing sound they make as they fly. Bumble bees are normally found in flowering plants and they can sting. They do not usually nest in structures. Bumble Bees Color: Black with yellow (rarely orange) markings; with overall fuzzy appearance, including top surface of abdomen.
  • Bumble bees are social insects which live in nests or colonies. The adults are represented by workers which are sterile females, queens, and males (drones) which come from unfertilized eggs and usually appear in late summer. Typically, only inseminated queens over winter and do so underground. During the spring, bumble bee queens select a suitable subterranean cavity or surface grass clump as a nesting site and lays eggs.
  • Mature bumble bees nests ultimately contains about 50-400 bees at any given time. The nest temperature is regulated to about 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Bumble bees maintain the temperature themselves by producing body heat without wing movement. In the late summer only males (drones) and new queens are reared in the nest. Once these new queens emerge, they mate and find a suitable place to over winter. The males, workers, old queen, and any virgin new queens die with the onset of cold weather.
  • As social insects, bumble bees live in colonies. Each spring a queen that has survived over wintering will find a suitable nesting site and establish her colony. Her first brood of eggs mature into workers that forage on pollen and nectar for food. The workers do produce honey, but it is not edible to humans. The bumble bees colony grows larger over the summer and is usually discovered while gardening or mowing the lawn.
  • They forage when temperatures are below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C; lowest observed flight at 26 degrees F/-3.6 degrees C) whereas, most bees stop foraging at 61 degrees F (16 degrees C). Each worker forages independently, and bumble bees never exchange food. Old cocoons are used to store both pollen and nectar. Only enough food (honey and pollen) for a few days is stored at any given time which helps discourage nest predation by skunks, foxes, etc.
  • During the fall, the colony produces a number of queens that fly out to find protected sites to spend the winter and thus repeat the cycle next year. Bumble bees don't make holes or tunnels in wood, but will nest in abandoned rodent burrows, under piles of grass clippings or leaves, stones, logs, ect. Occasionally, bumble bees will establish a nest above ground in a wall, firewood pile, shed, crawl space or attic.
  • Bumble bees are considered beneficial insects because they pollinate the flowers of many plant species. However, if their nest is located in or close to an occupied structure or recreational area, then control is needed.

Carpenter Bees

  • Carpenter bees get their common name from their habit of boring into wood to make galleries for the rearing of young. These are worldwide in distribution with 7 species occurring in the United States. They don't have a hive as honey bees, but are solitary bees.The female Carpenter bee can get into small areas,boring holes.
  • They are perfectly round, about 3/8 " in diameter. Adult body length is about 1/2 to1 inch (12.5 to 25 mm). They are robust, resembling bumble bees, but larger, with the top surface of abdomen mostly bare and shiny.  The male has a yellow face. The female's is black. They can resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black, while bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.
  • Bumble bees don't nest in the wood, but rather on the ground. The female carpenter bee will bore a channel in the wood from 6 " to as long as 4 feet to lay their eggs in "galleries". Although, they are a wood boring insect, they are not considered a true structural pest. They do not spread through out the entire structure, but prefers unpainted or finished wood.

Yellow Jackets

  • Wasps can be distinguished from bees by their thin "waists." Bees are thick-wasted. They fold their wings lengthwise when at rest. Like all wasps, yellow jackets prey on a variety of insects and other arthropods. Yellow jackets will also forage on foods that people eat, especially sweets and meats.
  • They are considered beneficial insects, eating other insects. The yellow jacket colony will remain active for only one summer, after which the queens will fly away to start more colonies. The remaining ones, die at the end of the summer, the nest is not reused.
  • They usually nest in the ground, but will nest also in railroad ties, wall voids, and other above ground locations. In the spring, most yellow jackets will feed on insects. Many homeowners see"bees" flying around their hedges. These "bees" are usually yellow jackets and are there to eat insects on the foliage. Spraying the hedges with an appropriate insecticide will kill the food source of the yellow jackets, and they will soon leave the area.
  • In the fall, wasp colonies have come the largest size, and foraging workers may be a serious nuisance as they search for food people eat or discarded food.

::Health Risks

  • The bumble bees will attack to defend their nest, so they are considered a health concern. Carpenter bees are less aggressive than wasps, but female bees provisioning their nests will sting.
  • All wasps will defend their nests, but the Yellow Jackets and hornets are the most aggressive. If a wasp colony is disturbed, they can become very aggressive and sting.
  • Most stings are painful, but temporary. However in allergic individuals, a single sting may result in a serious reaction, requiring medical treatment. People sensitive to insect venom should exercise care around bumble bees and their nests.

::Other Risks

  • The female carpenter bee will bore a channel in the wood from 6 " to as long as 4 feet to lay their eggs in "galleries"

::Removal & Treatment

  • Eradicating honey bees from a wall void requires an experienced beekeeper. To permanently solve the problem, the entire nest and the bees must be removed and the entrance resealed. It is not enough to simply spray inside the nest entrance with an insecticide because after the insecticide degrades, the cavity and combs are attractive to future swarms of bees.
  • If bees in a wall are killed but the nest is not removed, the combs are no longer ventilated and wax and honey may melt and stain interior walls. An experienced beekeeper can expose the nest and remove the bees and comb. Animals B'Gone can also help the property owner with the repair work often needed to to reseal the void.

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Top 5 Calls

1. Bats
2. Bees
3. Snakes
4. Rats
5. Squirrels

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