General Discussions => Brewery => Topic started by: JohnRoberts on September 22, 2018, 11:18:32 AM

Title: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on September 22, 2018, 11:18:32 AM
I love the depth of knowledge around here. Do we have any experts in Apicology or Mellitology?

In recent weeks I have discovered an underground yellow jacket(?) bee nest (two entrances with lots of bee activity) .  This bee nest is right where I got stung a few weeks ago while picking up branches from my pecan tree that fell.  I still have a pink scar where the bee stinger venom rotted a hole in my forearm, because I didn't find and remove the stinger until 2 days later when my arm became swollen.

Here is my problem or reason for cognitive dissonance. I have flip flopped between killing the bee colony, or letting them bee.  ??? There are something like 10-20k types of bees and wasps, and yellow jackets are classified as wasps who don't lose their singer while attacking.  There are bumble bees that also live in underground nests that do lose their stingers and are more passive than yellow jackets. If they are only bumble bees (beneficial for pollination) I should leave them alone, if yellow jackets (more dangerous and only redeeming quality is killing other insects) probably not...

What I am wrestling with is what are the chances that I got stung by a random honey/bumble bee, within a couple feet of this very active yellow jacket nest (astronomically small IMO)?  Yellow jackets actually kill honey bees and steal their honey.  My good old boy neighbor verified the yellow jacket identification, but claims yellow jackets can lose their stingers.  With tens of thousands of types, maybe I have a hybrid bee/wasp, or just a very low probability coincidence.

I guess I can do a post mortem after I trash this bee nest (or just wait, they don't survive winters in place, only the queen survives winters).

I am 100% certain I pulled a stinger out of my swollen arm.. I had to shave the hair off my arm and use my SMD magnifying glasses to even see it. Then used tweezers to pull it out and it was the classic bee stinger with venom sac still attached.  I am also 90% certain that this nest is yellow jackets, I have dealt with them before as a kid and they can be pretty nasty, so I am being very careful. Yellow jackets will tag you with an attack phrenome while stinging so the rest of the colony will go after you too. 

Any thoughts?


PS: from research it appears Sevin powder is effective at wiping out underground yellow jacket nests. I don't have any Sevin laying around so they are safe until next week. I don't believe in killing bees, or tolerating wasps.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: PRR on September 22, 2018, 12:31:35 PM
In loose soil, gasoline is quickly effective. Yeah, poison your well for decades.

Bumblebees won't attack you unless you insult their queen, steal their honey, and even then may just bumble around. There may be other ground bees not so docile.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on September 22, 2018, 12:54:45 PM
Man I hate those things..... Looking real quick online it does mention that yellow jackets can lose their stingers every now and then and especially if they are swatted while stinging...I guess you'd have to compare stinger images???
I have already spent several days searching the WWW about this... reportedly some yellow jackets have a barb or horn on their stinger, but the stinger I pulled out of my arm was 100% typical bee stinger with multiple tine barb, and venom sack. (My neighbor also says that yellow jackets lose stingers too).
Anyhow, now I'm that much more excited to go work in the yard today......  :-\

Bees are so passive I'd be surprised if it were one ....guess it could've been a rogue African one :o....only time I've ever been stung by a bee is accidentally stepping on it.....
Most bees are passive and I generally leave them alone because they are "good" insects currently suffering from colony decline.
Even the wasps around here are fairly passive unless you really get on their nest..... I've had many encounters while being around soffits with giant nests I forgot to look for and they just sit there and shake with their wings pulled back just waiting for me to make a wrong move....
In decades of experience wasps can be more or less aggressive depending on temperature. I have suffered many wasp stings, and they are notable because they can sting you even after they are dead.  :o One time as a kid walking barefoot indoors, I stepped on a dead wasp and the F'__er stung me. Wasps extend their stinger by contracting muscles in their abdomen(?), apparently stepping on a dead one can have a similar effect of extending the stinger. 
Good luck with the battle.... Definitely no place for yellow jackets around the home......
yup....  arguably I can keep my distance but it feels a little personal.

@ Paul....  apparently my clean up work after the downed pecan tree was enough to irritate at least one bee/wasp...  In my almost 7 decades I don't recall one previous bee sting (which is probably why I didn't search for the stinger), but too many wasp and yellow jacket stings to remember them all.

This really seems like its related to the proximate very active yellow jacket nest...  I am not imagining the barbed stinger with venom sac that was making my arm swell up and putrefy, before I extracted it.


PS: Yes gas works but might kill the pine tree the nest is under... reminds me of the redneck's last words before burning down his shed... "hey bubba watch this".  I admit I have used gas sparingly to quickly knock down fire ant colonies when moving piles of dirt around my yard. I recently found some two part fire ant poison that works pretty quickly and doesn't kill my grass, but not as fast as gas.  Sevin (powder) reportedly is effective against yellow jackets.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: Jarno on September 22, 2018, 01:09:13 PM
We need more (bumble) bees, but we really have plenty of wasps on planet earth. I say leave bees, be them bumble or regular, well alone, and keep tabs on the wasps and exterminate them if the nest gets too large (saw some pretty horrendous youtube material on big hornets nests).
As others have mentioned, you really need to get up close and personal with (non africanised) honey bees or bumble bees, before they sting, and even then. Unless someone in your family is allergic, then move bees. Recently moved a small bumblebee nest, felt so bad that I (by accident of course) unearthed it, I put the brood and a few workers in a box on the other end of the garden. Opened the box a few months later thinking the effort was unsuccessful, but the opposite was the case, they were still there.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 01, 2018, 01:42:53 PM
I have an update about my (yellow jacket?) nest.

After failing to source Sevin poison dust/powder (I found one web vendor that said it couldn't be shipped to my address  :o ) I settled for a different liquid sevin sprayer that attaches to a garden hose and is listed to kill yellow jackets.

I followed the WWW advice to attack the yellow jacket nest friday night, apparently they can't see good enough after dark to tag you and mount a group attack. So armed with a flashlight I sprayed where the nest holes were, but the backscatter of light from the flashlight beam in the water spray made it hard to see the nest entrances well enough to aim accurately.

When I checked saturday morning the yellow jackets were still active flying into and out of the nest holes.  :'(  I decided to leave them bee until later.

I'm not sure if this is Karma or mother nature keeping score but the young puke who reads my water meter left the heavy cast iron meter housing cover off again. I complained to the town about this already a couple months ago. When I saw it, I stopped my lawn mower and went to replace the cover. What I didn't realize until too late was that the cover was sitting upside down on top of an active fire ant mound and they were swarming, actively moving eggs, and really pissed off. Before I could see what was happening and drop the cover I was bit/stung several times on both hands.  :o

I dislike yellow jackets, but in 3 decades living in the deep south i have a special hatred for fire ants. I have probably killed millions (billions?) of them and can generally avoid them when we each stay in our own lanes.

I don't think the kids were smart enough to prank me with this as payback for reporting them before, but if they did they got me.. >:( I scrubbed my hands immediately with rubbing alcohol and thought I got the poison off, but later that night i felt the telltale swelling, and by the next morning I had pustules on fingers of both hands. Fingers don't have much spare skin so when your finger swells the skin can get pretty tight affecting joint flexibility. I put some calamine in band aids and covered the bites to prevent picking at the pustules (they itch). Now a couple days later the swelling is finally going down.

Back to the yellow jackets, I returned saturday night around dusk, before it got too dark so I could still see well enough to aim the insecticide spray better.  Zero yellow jacket sightings for two days since then so at least success with that mission.

I will never resolve the apparent bee stinger stuck in my arm for days after the sting (yellow jackets reportedly don't lose their stingers), but this nest definitely looked and acted like yellow jackets, confirmed by my next door neighbor too. Since yellow jackets kill honey bees and steal their honey, I am OK with a few hundred less yellow jackets in my yard.  8) 

When I go to pay my water bill in a few days, I will report the lazy meter reader(s) again (two boys were reading the meter saturday)... If i lived in a wealthier community i would expect the water meters to get replaced soon with digital self reporting meters, but our town can't afford that, so the meters need to be protected from the elements as they will probably be in service for decades to come. I've seen plastic meter housings on some local properties that are easier to deal with lighter covers, maybe the town can afford that? (I might even do that myself if the housing can be swapped without disconnecting the water main.)


[edit I can buy a plasticr water meter box for $13 on amazon and replace it myself from above.... I may ask the town for permission just to be a good citizen.  [/edit]

[edit2] OK plastic water meter box on order... I cleared it with the town clerk, while I don't usually ask for permission, this was no problem.  Maybe the young pukes reading the meters can lift the plastic box lid? [/edit]
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: cyrano on October 01, 2018, 05:42:57 PM
Take care, John. Over here, there's someone who's been in a coma for ten days because of wasp stings.

I can't tell from the press reporting what kind of wasps. Not the native ones, I presume, possibly Japanese hornets. See:

I saw one of those over ten years ago.

AFAICT "yellow jacket" isn't a species, but a number of families of wasps. Not bees. We have some of these too (Vespula germanica), but they're neither aggressive nor dangerous, unless you start acting excited, or in combination with some cheap perfumes. However, in the USA, some hornets are also called "yellow jackets" it seems. And these are aggressive and dangerous. You probably are facing "Vespula squamosa" see:

If you can get around their nests, they shouldn't be a pest, as they kill a lot of other insects, who are real pests, like caterpillars and grasshoppers.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: desol on October 01, 2018, 06:08:03 PM
Yes...bee's die upon naturally they're not wanting to sting unless something is being a real jerk(to the nest). Wasps on the other hand have a retractable stinger, so stinging is a joy.

I like bee's. Bee's are good. Kinda cute. Not supposed to be able to fly I think(too fat, etc) so interesting too in that, they defy the laws of physics.

I'd let one land on me.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: hodad on October 01, 2018, 08:11:31 PM
Yes.  Wasps ain't bees.  At all. 

I've used wasp killer sprayed down their holes, and it was pretty effective.  I dislike yellow jackets.  My experience with most wasps is that they really aren't that interested in stinking you unless you do something to them first.  Yellow jackets, however, are just plain mean. 
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: PRR on October 01, 2018, 08:52:46 PM
> failing to source Sevin poison

I wish I'd spoke up sooner.

I strongly suggest "Ortho Home Defense" for most around-house bugs. It is far less toxic than the classic bug sprays. It eliminates spiders quickly and for 5+ years in cellar, 2 years around foundation. Spray a surface they walk on. It comes through their feet and jangles their nerves. Mammals have a different receptor and better elimination and are hardly affected. Do not spray around valuable lobsters, frogs, fish-- I have to be discrete in this fish-town.
I am not SO sure it will work on wasps/hornets which rarely land except inside their hole.

It works on ants but a flourishing Fire Ant population may take a while. Teeny lawn-ants undermining my garage, the first good soak killed all the wanderers but clearly missed the Queen and eggs because another crop came out a week later. A second good soak seems to have killed the colony.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 01, 2018, 09:12:31 PM
Well my latest update is that the poison (permethrin? I think) has knocked down the population a bunch, but they were not completely gone. I checked the nest openings a few times a day, and all but once there were no yellow jackets...BUT right around sundown I saw several flying home into the nest. 
Perhaps my suspect zero, bee/wasp, lost his stinger because when he stung me, I smashed him into a paste with my free hand... or maybe it was a kamikaze honey bee hanging out by a yellow jacket nest (unlikely, they don't play nice together). FWIW my sting was not followed up by a swarm or group attack, further evidence against yellow jackets, but I did not wait around to see.
I still have poison left so gave the yellow jacket nest another proper douche after dusk tonight (sorry PC police for the crude verbiage). I am almost tempted to go rambo on them in the daytime now that their numbers are well down... but probably better to spray at night when they are all likely to be home in the nest, and more docile. ''
Yes, I have encountered yellow jackets before as a kid... one tags you with attack pheromones and the rest of the colony chases you. Been there, don't want to ever do that again.  :o


PS: @cyrano... Indeed the venom from even just one stinger has impact... I didn't bother to remove the one stinger for a couple days and by then my arm was swollen (that's why I looked for it). I have a pink scar now from where it putrified a hole in my arm, from only one sting. I suspect a concerted attack of multiple stings could kill a mammal...  even fire ants (related to wasps) kill huge cattle, and idiot humans who stomp on a big fire ant mound, without an exit strategy.

@Paul I suspect I have Bifenthrin .05% & Zeta-Cypermethrin .0125% in some of my pile of insect poisons already... I'll check tomorrow... 

FWIW I noticed a fire ant colony today that collapsed a few days ago after a dose of Acephate. It had a single ant with wings (queen) walking (flying?) away... I should have re-dosed her, probably starting another colony. 
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: cyrano on October 02, 2018, 03:43:07 AM
The vast majority of winged ants are males. They die off after one or two days and are completely harmless.

It could be a queen, if she is a lot bigger than the workers and the males.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: AusTex64 on October 02, 2018, 09:04:10 AM

For fire ants, I’ve had excellent results with Over And Out.

For other bugs, I buy bags of Demon water soluble, a pyrethin (sp?) based product.  A lot of commercial exterminators use it for termites. Here in Austin, I have to battle scorpions, black widow spiders and centipedes that are as large as a first grade pencil. Demon does the job.

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 02, 2018, 10:55:37 AM
I looked at the labels but already forgot some of the sundry poisons I use.

I am currently having success against fire ants using a two part strategy... a white acephate powder on active mounds followed by broadcast spraying baits laced with bifenthrin(?) (same active ingredient as over and out).   

The wasp poison is zeta-cypermethrin(?) (who names this stuff?).

The two part strategy seems to be working against my fire ants for now, but as always new colonies keep popping up after every rain. You are supposed to broadcast the bait over the entire yard, I didn't.  The yellow jacket nest seems to be collapsing, but not as effectively as the sevin dust, I couldn't source claims. You are supposed to wipe them out in one shot. I am OK with them just going away, not angry, but not moving closer to my house (I'll have to check for that too).

Over the decades I have found fire ant poison to lose effectiveness requiring a rotation between different variant poisons... don't know if this is true or possible. I feel like Sisyphus killing fire ant colonies that keep coming back to life... Even if i get my yard relatively clear, I see new colonies start up from ants floating in down my rain ditch, walking in from neighbors property (even across the road), and falling off logging trucks that drive by every day...

I joke that the fire ant poison sellers include fire ant eggs in their poison mix, so they will always have work.  ::)

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 12, 2018, 12:25:41 PM
OK it seems the ORTHO two part fire ant strategy uses acephate powder to cause the ant colony to pick up and move, and biferin(?) bait to prevent the new colony getting established nearby. Using acephate powder alone without spreading bait, results in the colony moving a few feet away and restablishing.

Buying a larger more commercial supply of acephate was a different texture with different instructions (apparently for golf courses and the like to manage fire ants). The commercial instructions mix the acephate in water and try to take out the mound in one action (kill the queen with a significant water based solution dose deep into the mound).


It appears that I am having success getting the fire ants out of my compost heap. The fire ants will kill and eat the worms that make the mound work...  I used a variant on the two part strategy, but did not want to poison the compost directly to harm any beneficial inhabitants (worms are animals).

I spread fire ant bait around the periphery of the compost heap, then encouraged the fire ant colony to leave by turning over the compost with a shovel every day....

Today after less than a week, I saw zero fire ants, but will keep nagging them with my shovel for a few more days. Should do it regularly anyhow.


PS: Yellow jacket nest is definitely toast, but I still see the occasional yellow jacket flying in my yard, gone but not forgotten.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 12, 2018, 12:59:59 PM
Good method! Glad you made progress...I was curious about that scenario with the compost .... pretty tricky...

I was changing a couple of coach lights yesterday and had to deal with a few pretty  friendly wasps that had a small home on one of them.  I had to keep luring them away with their home on the old light because they kept buzzing me and thinking the new light I was putting up was theirs....  some black with yellow stripe guys..... I've never encountered wasps that friendly actually aside from some mud daubers...
I don't drive my car but once a week, so the local insect population think it is theirs to colonize.

Oddly I have a spider web inside around the air conditioner vent, and outside by the door handle (passenger side).

A few months back I heard the tell-tale (buzzing) sound of a mud dauber making a new nest inside my front wheel well.  I couldn't see where he was working, so sprayed some of my sundry insect poisons misting the wheel well with enough to discourage him.. took a few days but he either finished or left (the noise stopped).

When I painted my house over a year ago I found one intact mud dauber nest that was just painted the last guys... even worse painters than me.  ::)

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 12, 2018, 02:48:52 PM
I recall hanging out by a friend's cement pond, (pool) with a lot of frogs in the area... yes they can get painfully loud at night.

I wanted to connect a microphone to a pitch shifter, to capture a frogs mating call, then shift it down lower in pitch, as if it was a much larger frog answering, and play that back over a loud speaker to scare the initial frog..  8)

Never tried it, but suspect it might work... or not.

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: alexc on October 14, 2018, 01:59:46 AM
Lots of bees here ..  about 3 different varieties  ..  and a *lot* of 'yellow jacket wasps'.

All the fruit that is grown in this region, of course.

Wasps are the worst ... anywhere I see a nest of those anywhere near the house, I go ballistic. Crush-kill-destroy mode.

Bees, a bit less so - if they are right on the house,  then I try a local 'bee person' who can try to take away the queen and the swarm. If that fails, well it gets dire pretty quick. I use the water hose to encourage them to remove to a different location.

I have had a pushed-out mobile swarm of honey bees 'bivoac' on my front lawn for 3 months in summer till they all flew off one day at the end of the season.  Amazing thing to see a swarm 'evolve' and then disappear,  on the  front lawn,  about the size of half a basketball.

I get regular 'honey bees' here a lot, mostly harmless unless you disturb a hive  >:(

Native bees - which are smaller, more green striped than yellow  and kind of hover in-place - and are harmless.

Them and bumble bees too, which are huge in comparison, slow and noisy with the 'buzz', don't sting.

But yellow jacket wasps - run!

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 14, 2018, 10:34:57 AM

But yellow jacket wasps - run!
My yellow jacket nest appears dead, but I still see some flying around elsewhere in my yard. The only time I got swarmed by yellow jackets was decades ago as a young kid, and I probably messed with them, causing it (as I recall I did run back then).

I am thinking of giving the underground yellow jacket nest another dose, since I have some poison left over. I wouldn't want any young-uns to hatch and start over.

The only insects I have a kill on sight order for are fire ants. I am pleased to report that I was successful "nagging" the fire ant colony with a shovel to leave my compost pile without using poison that would hurt beneficial flora and fauna.

I haven't been stung or bit in over a week.  ;D

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: awesomealex9 on October 14, 2018, 12:56:56 PM
For the record, I’m a beekeeper and I friggin hate yellow jackets. Any wasps for that matter. Kill by any means necessary.

If you want to feel extra powerful, get yourself a bee suit and smash them with your bare hands. It’s empowering.

In terms of pests and negative impacts on my honeybees, yellow jackets really are a a low concern for me. But they’re still mean buggers. Best of luck.  :)
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: PRR on October 14, 2018, 06:24:20 PM
> get yourself a bee suit and smash them with your bare hands.

Hah! Not that expensive!
JR might do well with jacket-only ($50), over tough jeans over sweatpants, boots, duct-tape.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: JohnRoberts on October 14, 2018, 08:39:29 PM
I have half considered getting into bees, because of the colony collapse drama, but I'm too cheap to buy one of the canned honey bee colony solutions (hundreds of dollars), and don't need yet another time consuming hobby anyhow.

I took no pleasure from squashing the one bee/wasp(?) that stung me (leaving a stinger in my arm for a few days, that yellow jackets reportedly don't do.) But that is my personal cognitive dissonance to struggle with.  ::)

The colony I wiped was definitely yellow jackets so no regrets.


PS: I suited up with jacket and long pants just to spray poison at the yellow jacket hive from tens of feet away... at night. Never give a sucker an even break.

Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: alexc on October 14, 2018, 11:08:52 PM
The only insects I have a kill on sight order for are fire ants. I am pleased to report that I was successful "nagging" the fire ant colony with a shovel to leave my compost pile without using poison that would hurt beneficial flora and fauna.

I haven't been stung or bit in over a week.  ;D

I hear that! Here in southern Tas, we have ants called 'jumping jacks'    .... *bad ants*  >:( >:( 

They are large, agressive ants with a horrible sting ...  not a bite, but a really bad sting .. you know the kind, causing ulcers and other necro BS of surrounding tissue ...  some kind of nasty toxcin (

They like to jump off the ground, onto and up the legs, stinging repeatedly ...  sigh.

*Luckily* I haven't come across, but they are in this region .. Tas has more venomous, agressive nasties ..  of all kinds  ..  imaginable. Don't start me on *snakes*.

It's a who's who  ..  or a plethora ... of the most toxic, aggressive and *common*   creatures available, down here!


I do get another 'wasp-bee-ant' related critter ..  it's harmless to hoomans and very pretty ...  a 'differently' evolved wasp - no sting to speak off and *no wings*, so it looks like an ant   ...  a *big*, irridescant ant ..  but it's not, it's a flightless wasp! (

Absolutely beautiful thing it is ...  I get them here and am happy to see them on the odd occasion.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: Gene Pink on October 14, 2018, 11:18:39 PM
> get yourself a bee suit and smash them with your bare hands.

Hah! Not that expensive!
They are cheaper than I thought.

Might be worth it just for the practical joke angle. Go to a population center with busy sidewalk traffic during the workday, Don the suit out of sight, and then come running out and down the sidewalk at full steam. ;D ;D ;D


Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: desol on October 14, 2018, 11:52:34 PM
I recall hanging out by a friend's cement pond, (pool) with a lot of frogs in the area... yes they can get painfully loud at night.

I wanted to connect a microphone to a pitch shifter, to capture a frogs mating call, then shift it down lower in pitch, as if it was a much larger frog answering, and play that back over a loud speaker to scare the initial frog..  8)

Never tried it, but suspect it might work... or not.


Well, in frog-land mating calls are different than aggressive calls so you may want to capture that instead, unless you want to attract instead of deter. Don't ask me which is which.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: PRR on October 15, 2018, 12:11:10 AM
I think the link for your Ant is this:

The venom is not so poisonous per se; but allergies develop and this has led to fatal allergic shock. In some of their territory, most humans have been exposed at least once.
Title: Re: Bees?
Post by: alexc on October 15, 2018, 12:22:22 AM
Thanks PRR - duly corrected and updated   :D

The bad ants not to be confused with the good jumping exercises!