A native of Europe and Asia, the honeybee was introduced to the United States for honey production and pollination of crops. The Africanized honeybee (a.k.a. “killer bee”) evolved in Africa, was introduced to South America, and found its way north into the U.S.
Honeybees are social bees, with colonies composed of a single Queen and many hundreds of workers. New colonies are begun when additional Queens are produced in a colony and all but one leave, each newly fertilized Queen taking a consort of workers with her. Males (drones) are produced only for mating with these new queens, and the males then die. Only the females can sting, but all workers are females and all of the working members of the hive can sting. Honeybees can sting humans only once, losing their stinger in the process. Larvae are fed pollen and honey, and the honey is created by continual mastication and dehydration of the nectar and other sugary fluids the workers gather. Honeybee hives remain active year-round, and often will be located within structures. Queens may live as long as 5 years while workers live less than 2 months in the active summer months.
The workers are about a half inch long and are various shades of brown and black colors, with very dark head, legs, and antennae. They are densely covered with short, pale hairs. The antennae are bent at their middle, or “elbowed”. The mouth is an elongate tongue formed by several parts, and enables the bees to reach into fairly deep flowers to take up the nectar there. The bees have 2 pairs of wings, separating them from some similar flies that mimic the bee’s appearance.
Bee activity may be reduced around eating areas with good sanitation, by keeping food spills cleaned up and keeping trash receptacles closed. Colonies located within walls or other voids may be removed by professional beekeepers if possible. If necessary they may be treated and the hive should then be removed. If the hive is left future problems will occur from melting wax and honey, as well as the attraction of the materials to ants and carpet beetles.
Yellowjackets are social wasps, with a Queen that initiated the colony and female workers that build the nest, care for the young, forage for food, and defend the colony. Colonies typically begin each spring and die off each fall in cooler climates, but may survive over the winter in warmer climates. The population of the colony easily grows too many thousands of workers by the end of the summer, at which time males are produced, mating with new queens takes place, and these fertilized queens then over-winter in protected locations. Adults feed on sweet liquids such as honeydew, nectar, fruit juices, or human foods such as sodas. They also relish a sugary material exuded by the larvae. The larvae are fed meat, and natural sources are insect larvae or bits of flesh from dead animals. As scavengers the workers also gather human foods at outdoor eating areas. The workers are all able to sting repeatedly, and very aggressively defend their colony from perceived intruders. Nests are placed either in aerial locations, including trees, shrubs, wall voids, or attics, as well as in the ground, where workers enlarge holes they find to accommodate the growing colony. The nest is created from cellulose gathered from tree bark, dried plant materials, or other sources, mixed with saliva, and formed as the hexagonal cells for the larvae.
Yellowjackets are very similar to the other social paper wasps called Umbrella Wasps, but differ by having no narrow waist between their thorax and abdomen. Colors are yellow and black, and specific identification of each species is done with differences in the patterns of the black patches around the eyes and head as well as on the abdomen. Yellowjackets, as wasps, have 2 pairs of wings that are dissimilar in size and shape. This separates them from many species of flies that mimic wasps, where there is only 1 pair of wings.
Elimination of attractions such as spilled food materials or rotting fruits in gardens will help to prevent the presence of yellowjackets. If they are nesting within a structure the nest itself or openings the workers use for entry may be treated. Trapping will capture many of the foraging workers around human activity areas, but is unlikely to cause a large reduction of the nest population.
If you have a stinging insect problem and would like to have a Craig Thomas Pest Control, in partnership with Orkin Pest Control, representative speak to you, give us a call! Contact us by phone 800-255-6777, email for your free inspection today!
We at Craig Thomas Pest Control, Inc. are grateful to Univar Profession Products and Services for pest information incorporated into this work.