This post if only for those who have decided that they must find and remove yellow jacket nests to save their honey bee hives.
Ok Folks, for those of you who have been having trouble with yellow jackets and want to find and remove the nest here is Sherpa's bee-lining primer:
1. Obtain a small (hand sized) fish that has been cleaned, but with the skin still on (keeps it from drying out). A small bream or bass works great.
2. By watching your hive determine in what general direction the yellow jackets are going when they leave your hive.
3. Go in that direction about 200-300 feet and find a small tree that has a clearing around it.
4. Skin a small limb of the tree, cut the end of the limb to a point and hang the fish on the limb. The best time for this is in the early morning.
5. Place some grease around the trunk of the tree to keep ants away.
6. Go home and return in about 2-3 hours. The fish will have attracted the yellow jackets and they will be biting off small pieces of the fish and returning to their nest.
7. You can follow the yellow jackets to their nest.
8. If you are having trouble seeing the yellow jackets, you can flag them. You will need a piece of cigarette paper (the kind that people used to roll their own). Tear off a corner of the paper and make it into a small triangular "flag" with a long "tail". The tail should be just longer than the length of the yellow jacket. Take a small piece of fish and attach it to the end of the tail of the flag by rolling it into a ball. (You want the piece to be about the size that the jackets are biting off). You are going to trick the yellow jacket to take this piece of fish with the flag. When a yellow jacket has landed on the fish, and IS WELL UNDER WAY biting off a piece of the fish, you slowly slide the tail end of your flag with the fish under the yellow jacket's abdomen up to its jaws. You want the yellow jacket to grasp your piece of fish with the flag.
9. The yellow jacket will take the fish with the flag attached back to the nest. Don't make the flag too big or the yellow jacket will bite the flag off.
10. If you want to practice giving the jackets some fish before making your flag, just put a small ball of fish on the end of a pine needle and use it to push under the yellow jacket when the yellow jacket is biting off a piece of fish. You can use a pine needle that is long enough to be a little distance from the "business end" of the yellow jacket. If you give the jacket a slightly larger piece than they would normally bite off, they will sometimes try to fly with this larger piece and it is easier to follow them. You could try this before using the flag method.
11. When you are following the yellow jacket and you see that it makes a sudden downward movement, you are near the nest so slow down and don't step on the nest. Repeat, DON'T STEP ON THE NEST. IF you lose sight of the yellow jacket, STOP where you are and look around. You may be very near the nest. Backtrack and try again. It really helps if you have some help in following the yellow jacket.
12. If you determine that the nest if a long way from your fish, you can put another fish closer to where you followed the yellow jackets.
13. Once you find the nest, be sure that you observe it to determine if they have more than one entrance (about half the time). Mark the location of the nest so that you can easily find it at dusk.
14. Obtain a road flare and return to the nest site at dusk. Once you have determined that all the yellow jackets have returned to the nest, light the flare and QUICKLY put the lighted end of the flare into the entrance. The flame will kill the guards and the smoke will put the yellow jackets to SLEEP. Leave the flare in the entrance about 10 minutes. After that time you can dig up the nest and dispose of the yellow jackets in whatever means you find appropriate (soapy water). Remember the jackets are asleep not dead. They will awaken in about 5 minutes if not killed. If you want to take the nest with larvae home to use as fish bait, put the nest in a paper bag and store in the refrigerator. If the nest has a second entrance, you must cover it before you put the flare in. Put the flare in the end that has the most activity. Sometimes you only find a 2nd entrance after the flare is in and you see smoke coming out. If so, quickly seal this entrance.
15. Remember, don't step on the nest and don't start a brush fire. Also if you find yellow jackets of different sizes or markings on the fish they are from different nests. You will usually see them competing for the fish.
When I was younger (12 yrs old) I used this method many times to find yellow jacket nests. Local fisherman would pay for the nests and this is how we made some spending money in rural SC. If used properly, you can find find nests this way without getting stung.
If you have questions PM me before you go out or leave a question here.
I will try to get up some pictures, but I don't think that I can do it before next week. Happy hunting.