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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Watsonville, CA
    Posts
    18

    Question Yellow Jackets, Yikes!

    I have lost 2 hives now, and my thirds looks like its going down, too, due to yellow jackets. I am not quite sure if you can lose a hive to yellow jackets as in all my reading on the threads here say a healthy large hive can fend them off. Yet, two weeks ago when I did a hive check, all my hives were doing well...two were thriving and the third had a good population but no honey/pollen stores. This hive I started feeding with top feeders to increase there stores. All was well until a week ago when I noticed robber bees around the yard. I reduced entrances in the hive being fed and then the yellow jackets started. This hive went down fast and then my second hive which had plenty of stores and population started being inundated with yellow jackets. I put up traps (homemade, storebrought with apple juice, store bought with phermone/hotdogs), I started getting out my fly swatter and then I took apart this hive a week ago and it was gone,too. MY third hive, by far my largest and most boomiest, is now not doing well. At first, the bees seemed to be fighting off the attack and it looked like it would survive. But weather hasn't been in my favor, 45 F mornings which are no problem for yellow jacket flying and carnage, keep the bees indoors so by the time it warms up the yellow jackets have been attacking the hive for hours. The same at night - they keep going after the sun in down and the bees have gone in. Now it looks like more yellow jackets are coming in and out of the hive more than bees, and I have reduced the entrance to 1 bee width. So sadly, it looks like I am losing my last hive.

    So here is my question: can you lose hives to yellow jackets only or should I suspect that my hives were weakened by something else?

    If/when I get bees again how can I stop this from happening again? The yellow jackets are relentless and there are so many of them. I don't have any nests on my property (we checked) so I can't go out and kill the source. What precautions do you other beekeepers take?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Default

    I use yellowjackettraps bated with a teaspone of wet tuna cat food. The yellowjackets and bald faced hornets seem to prefer the tuna cat food after several days to huntingbees for food.
    Clint
    Clinton Bemrose<br />just South of Lansing Michigan<br />Beekeeping since 1964

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Red Bluff, Ca
    Posts
    301

    Default

    123sweet

    Are they taking bees or honey?
    There is very little yellow jacket brood this time of year and the YJ switch to sweets.
    Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Albany, NY
    Posts
    48

    Post

    You can try to bait with yellowjacket traps, however my experience has found that the traps did catch alot of yellowjackets I still had them in the hive. As far as yellojacket brood, there are a couple of yellowjackets that still produce queen and drone brood for another couple weeks. Were all of your hives treated for mites, any disease, etc. Strong colonies will kill yellowjackets entering there hive, unless the hive has been weakened some how with a decreasing population.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Angry robbing

    i'd say if you dont close this hive up its doomed. make sure you have ventilation by closing it up with screen. a sbb will help,also. open it up in 48 hrs and watch for robbing. good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Watsonville, CA
    Posts
    18

    Cool Yellow Jackets, Yikes

    Thanks for all your info and suggestions. Here is more information:

    -The only treatment I have done to the hives is powdered sugar
    -The only hive that appeared to be weak was the one with no stores.
    -It does look like that they are eating the sweets instead of the bees.
    -I closed up the last remaining hive this morning, hoping that at least the queen and some workers are left. I do have a sbb and a ventilation hole in the wood blocking the entrance.
    -Oddly, when I was closing up the hive (in the dark, with flashlight) there were several YJ's at the entrance that I scraped out and stomped on. Should I assume, more are in the hive?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Scappoose Oregon
    Posts
    10

    Default

    An old time beek showed me a GREAT trick for helping the bees deal with Yj's. Take a strip of wood about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch high that's a little longer than your entrance and tack it about 3/4 an inch in front of the entrance. the bees will just climb over it, but the YJ's can't make their straight runs past the guards bees. When they have to stop and climb over it gives the bees all that much longer to get them before they make it inot the hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Default

    Another year, put your hives on screen bottoms, with reduced entrances; they only need to be about 3-4 inches long and a quarter of an inch or so high. If you add a row of nails 9mm apart they act as a permanent mouseguard. The reduced entrance is easy for the bees to defend; my hives tend to have a lot more dead wasps than bees outside. Most of the wasps try to get in underneath, and get lost.
    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Watsonville, CA
    Posts
    18

    Sad Yellow Jackets, Yikes

    Well I am sad to say I have lost all of my hives now (3 total). I followed Mike Haney's advice and closed the hive up on 10/20. When I opened up the hive on 10/22 all that flew out was 50 or so yellow jackets (this is despite closing the hive up in pitch dark at 45F). Your advice sounds good Robert, though all my hives were on screened bottom boards and you are right, a lot of YJ's did get lost under there. When the attack started, I reduced all entrances but not to 1/4" so maybe that will be my strategy next time, with the nails 9 mm apart.

    I still ask the question again - should I suspect my hives were weakened by something else? Should I still use the same equipment next year?

    This is after taking devastating losses last year to most likely CCD (all the bee people in my area lost 100% of their hives - so I am assuming CCD). I used totally different equipment this year by the way and didn't reuse anything.

    So now I am wondering should I start looking for a new hobby. This is my third year and it seems I can't keep a hive alive...despite being very diligent. My first year I just had one hive that turned into a laying worker hive and became extinct, then it was CCD, and then the revenge to the yellow jackets...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,440

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 123sweet View Post
    -The only treatment I have done to the hives is powdered sugar
    Have you been monitoring mite drop counts? Powdered sugar treatments seem to work OK as a maintenance type treatment if your counts are low, but if the colonies were heavily infested with mites it may have weakened them to the point of collapse. When you start back up in the spring you may need to consider adding other mite treatments to your IPM arsenal to get them under control.... at least temporarily.

    Quote Originally Posted by 123sweet View Post
    So now I am wondering should I start looking for a new hobby.
    Don't throw in the towel yet. Scores of beekeepers had huge losses this past year. Give it another shot.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Watsonville, CA
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Hi Mike and all of you. Thank you for your suggestions and encouragement.

    Mite counts? Yes I did them for a couple of months - one hive (Lang #1) had none and the other hive (Lang #2) had a few, which I treated with powdered sugar. The third hive I didn't do counts on (this was my foundationless hive that I started from a package and was the weakest of the three). Lang #2 also had shb which was alleviated after the hive got much bigger in numbers and the weather got drier. Towards the end of summer I stopped doing the mite counts because it appeared the hives were doing so well in numbers and honey storage. Then October hit along with the YJ's and the rest is history.

    Bbbhoney sent me an email and gave this suggestion that was new to me and I quote him: “ I was reading your problem with YJ's and have a foolproof fix. I live in PA and have been having a SERIOUS problem with wasps and yj's (along with European Hornets!!! WOW - Big!) this year. If you don't have that many hives the best method is to but a screen "false front" an inch away from the hive that seals and extends three quarters up the hive so the bees have to climb up and over to get in and out. The hornets and yj's will stay all day in front of the entrance because that’s where the smell is coming from (same principal of screened bottom and yj's getting "lost"). They WILL NOT climb up, but the bees know that's the way in and out. IT WORKS PERFECTLY.” …bbbhoney

    After that I went to the search function and put in “ROBBER SCREENS” and came up with these two URL’s that have pictures and how to build robber screens:

    http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2...ed-robber.html

    http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2...-part-two.html

    This might be old news to some of you bee folks that have been around awhile but it was a revelation to me and gives me hope that I can keep bees again and at least fend off yellow jackets.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,772

    Default

    I don't know what it is with yellowjackets, but this year has been terrible. I put up some commercial traps and caught a bunch, but there's still a lot around the hives. I see the bees wrestling with them all the time. Didn't have this problem last year. I've been feeding and yesterday, when I took the outer cover off of the top feeder, there were about 12 or so yellow jackets sitting there. They must have found a real tiny spot that they fit in...something big enough for them but too small for the bees. It gave me great pleasure to squish them all! I also tacked on the mouse guards last week and it changed the odds dramatically since the YJ's were forced to land and march in as opposed to flying straight into a wide opening.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Presque Isle Co. MI
    Posts
    66

    Default Yellow Jackets

    I did see some YJs this year (my first year, I’m a newbee) But when I rearranged the hive in early October I found a YJ nest under the hive stand! About a softball size nest! I disposed of it promptly. Still as of last week I was seeing only a couple of YJs trying unsuccessfully to get in. This hive is very strong, and doing a great job of fending off the YJs. But I could tell the girls were very irritable from the attempts by the YJs.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Valley Springs, Ca.
    Posts
    135

    Default Meat bees

    What I have are meat bees. not sure if this is what you guys are calling Yellow Jackets or not. But they are raising hell on my weeker hives. They seem to be bad this year. I put out traps and reduced the entrances but still have some problems.
    Jack
    Valley Springs, Ca.

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