A Bee is not a Yellowjacket

A bee is not a yellowjacket…

Honeybees are too often blamed for stings and aggression actually caused by yellowjackets– especially German yellowjackets, which are a relatively new import into the Pacific Northwest (1990s)  and hang around people in ways that our native yellowjackets do not.

I have even heard an Oregon park ranger call a yellowjacket a “bee”– it is not.  It is a hornet.  If you are stung by something that does not leave a stinger, you can be sure you were not stung by a honeybee.

Most but not all yellowjackets nest in the ground.  Honeybees like their nest up from the ground to thwart predators like skunks and raccoons.

Honeybees away from their hive are also exceedingly mellow unless you happen to squash one by mistake.  They are about their business collecting nectar and pollen when they are out and about.  It is only near their hive they get protective.

Here is a honeybee :

nov 2012 016

Below, by contrast, is a yellowjacket:nov 2012 042  coming in the next day or two!

I lost at least three of my honeybee hives to pesticide poisoning– a neighbor hiring a pesticide operator to spray a yellowjacket nest–  which I did not find out about until several months later.  Pesticides do not always kill the bees outright, but weaken their immune or navigation systems.  I lost the hives one after another, about two weeks apart.

IF you must apply pesticides, let your neighbors know so that they can protect their bees by closing up their hive for a time.  Even if your neighbors do not have bees, they may want to protect their children and pets.

And a better way to get rid of yellowjackets is to make sure that they do not nest in by trapping the queens.  Set out yellowjacket traps with “long enduring  lure” (actually, this is queen lure) in early spring– as soon as the weather turns warm enough that you see bees flying.

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