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identifying bees vs. yellowjackets

 
author & steward
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I don't mind the wasps, except some of them will invade beehives for the honey. As will hornets. In my experience yellow jackets have the most painful sting of them all.

Another problem we have is ground bees. The entire colony lives underground and if you happen to step on it or run over it with a lawn mower or tiller---LOOK OUT! If you don't bother them, they go about their business. We had a skunk once destroy an entire colony of them, leaving a huge hole and discarded pieces of comb all over the place. The bees never came back, but we keep a wary eye out just the same.
 
pollinator
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We every spring get little mounds of dirt in the yard and assumed they were ants. No prob as we just overseed with clover and some grass seed. Looking closely I was surprised the activity around the holes was by little black and gray bees. Basically excitedly swarming and some getting into tussled with other bees. They landed on my arm but no stinging at all (I think the male bees in this specie lack stingers) Sorry for the out of focus clip, I’ll try to get better shots.
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gardener
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I don't know your location, but here in Europe a lot of the wild bees (solitary bees) are ground nesting. They are very grateful for some open soil (without mulch). A bee hotel is only for some species and more for the joy of humans (that want to observe) than to help the solitary bees. A diverse garden with lots of plant material is superior to a bee hotel.
Looks like you also got a superb hotel for those little bees! They are probably mating.
 
pioneer
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I found a yellowjacket nest last summer. Actually, it found me as I was working nearby. I heard a few buzzes and saw a few flying insects but didn't think too much of it. Then I recognized the sound as coming from a wasp so I turned to run. Yea, run. At my age a run resembles an awkward mosey. I got hit several times and them little so n so's chased me for a hundred yards.
I ironed up with some spray foam with a range of 20 odd feet and a mist fogger for flying insects to recon the nest site. I built a trail so I could flank them and started my assault. The wind was at my back so I got as close to the nest as I dared and hit the opening with the foam. Advancing to the site under an old uprooted cedar stump I kicked it open and deployed the spray mist in the wind so it drifted into the best.
The queen sent many warriors and they died by the hundreds. It was a bloodless bloodbath. I thought I heard a tiny "hurray" when I ran out of mist. The foam is good for bombardment from range, but it ain't for shit in a dogfight up close and personal. That was my "Holy Crap!" moment.
I turned and mosied back to the safety of my shop to step up to the next level. I wasn't certain what that was but I needed to give it a good think.
Above the door in my shop hangs a 12 gauge pump loaded with 3" magnum turkey loads #4. I was not messing around.
Feeling like an old Rambo, I took my flanking trail back to the nest and opened fire. It seemed surreal and slowed down after the first shot. The gun seemed to pump fresh rounds into the chamber by itself. I kept firing until I ran out of shells.
When the shotgun loads hit the stump it started moving just enough to expose the nest itself and the reserve attack squadron.
Shotguns are good for bombardment from range, but ain't for shit as a club against pissed off, shot up waspers! I suffered battle wounds for a second time but was not detered. I now had a plan of attack!
I returned to the shop and retrieved my brush burning wand. It is a four foot wand with a 10 foot hose attached to a propane bottle. That four foot wand was too short for this kind of work, but it was all I had.
I fired that mother up and stuck the flame to the opening. Wasps died as flaming alphas. Finally I had them trapped. I saw a few get out but I had won the war.
I kicked open the rest of the nest and dragged it out. It was huge. Had to have been there a few years.
I can now identify yellowjacket wasps by the sound of their buzz and if I hear one do not be in front of me. I'll run smack over your ass getting away!😂
 
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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Penny Dumelie wrote:
On the other side of it, I've read bees and wasps are capable of facial recognition, and I personally believe they are very aware of body language.



I'd go for that.  This time of year and a bit earlier, I regularly find queen wasps in the house or the workshop.  I tell them politely to leave, with suitable gesture, and they do.  I would never kill a queen wasp. she is the guardian of her generation and has an important mission to fulfill.

Other end of the year, evil little sods get a swift death if they venture close to a flat surface within arm's reach!
 
pollinator
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Kyle Neath wrote:When it's dry and they're established, I learned there is no way prevention, no avoidance, no "being at peace" with them. I learned this as three yellow jackets were crawling on my face, one trying to drink from my eyeball while one of my friends told me to "just stay calm and they'll go away". She got bit in the face that day.



Does this also happen when you have sufficent ponds they can drink from?
Did she really get bitten, or did she get stung?
 
pollinator
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I think it's funny that honeybees have such good press, even in over-the-top-memes. So here goes: they're non-native, not nearly as effective at pollinating as either native bees, or several other species, including flies. And they live in a weird mass that totally subordinates the individual to the mass-mind.
The reason that they are used to pollinate farm and orchard crops is that they are domesticated and can be moved to the site by a contractor for a week when the trees need pollination, then taken away. It's just a way to substitute money and an industrial solution for providing a poison-free habitat for the pollinators that are already there. Or should already be there if they haven't been wiped out by the farmer who's paying for the honeybees.  
Seed growers use houseflies to pollinate crops like carrots that have to be raised in isolation cages to avoid cross-pollination. They are actually very effective pollinators. As are dozens and dozens of other species. Wasps not only pollinate flowers but eat pests. I'd like to see a honeybee do that!

So really it comes down to honey. In other words, it comes down to what WE get out of it. Nobody notices that all these hundreds of other insects are busy pollinating things because we can't rob them of sweet stuff......
 
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Don't count your weasels before they've popped. And now for a mulberry bush related tiny ad:
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