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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Hi,

    I am new and not really a bee person. A decade ago, our state government infested our area with a huge population of rather nasty little wasps to fight some bug that was damaging the forests. I had no problem spraying their little papery round nests that are just everywhere. This year, however, I have a new kind of bee. They look like real bees of some sort with black legs while the wasps here are yellow-legged. The new bees pretty much swarm my garden in the mornings but are not aggressive and have never stung me. They are black with yellow stripes and build their nests in the eves of my barn, like the wasps, but their nests are honeycombs, not the papery grey ones. Although I really know little about bees, I am aware of the problem of so many bees dying off and if these bees are good guys, it is my inclination to leave them alone. How do you tell the good bees from the undesirables? To my knowledge there are no beekeepers in within a couple miles of my location. I am located in northern Idaho, about sixty miles south of the Canadian border.

    Thanks for any help/advice.

    Pat H

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,129

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    got a camera with a zoom so you can get a photo without getting too close? It would certainly help.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    I took one with my camera phone but it's pretty fuzzy. I'll post it but I am not sure whether you can tell anything from it. The bees themselves are too fast for my camera but I snapped a bunch of pics of the foliage and will try playing Where's Waldo with them and see whether I can find a bee. There are also yellow legged ones, which I suspect of being wasps and some larger ones that are black with black and white striped rear-ends. All in all, a very busy garden!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    This was the only bee shot I was able to get.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,469

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    The good guys have white hats.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,113

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Any of the native species have a role in the ecology. On the other hand a rose where you don't want it is a weed.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    The "honeycomb" nest you shot in the picture is a wasp nest.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Yeah, thats a wasp nest, and the one you took a picture of looks too long to be a honey bee. The one in the picture there appears to have yellow legs, but the image is so small its really hard to tell. Probably a yellow jacket?
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Appreciate it! Bug spray cometh!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    There is a wide variety of native wasps, many of which have a much worst reputation than our bees do. Been too many years ago, and the books are all gone, but the family of mud daubers (Sphecidae?) build mud nest, rarely still unless trapped, and do a decent job minimizing spiders around the outsides of our houses in the south. Make the long pipe organ stype mud nest or the round mummy style all stacked together.

    The cuckoo wasps are fairly cool, solitary wasps that actually are the peacocks of the entire Order of our favorite bugs, think they are Chrysididia and never had one of them hit me but I sure harassed them. Not sure of their nests.

    The potter wasps are the only other one I know of that makes a mud nest has one in the shape of a clay pot (think native American pottery) and I think they are good pollinators. Also feed their larvae spiders, catepillars, etc, in that clay pot and leave it be. They are very non aggressive as well. Family is Eumanidae I think.

    Seems like the aggressive wasps were they ones that built the paper like hives, yellow jackets, hornets, paper wasps, and red wasps. Family is Vespidae. Also remove those nest, but others, I tend to let survive and help keep other unwanted critters away.

    Boy, coming from a scattergun shouldering, bow target in the back yard country boy that sure sounds like a tree hugger to me.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Eat spiders? Hmmm, maybe I'll keep some of those. (I'm arachnaphobic, to the core!) Taking out the paper nests though. Those little buggers will sting without provocation. I would rather have wasps than big, scary spiders any day!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    I prefer to keep all of the spiders I can get, so I kill the dirt dobber wasps as well.

    The spiders eat the things I really don't want around, so more spiders I've got the better.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Pat H - the photos wouldn't show up last night when I made the post, was spending about 2 hours deleting my browser and lots of junk that appeared on my computer. Of Course the kids don't upload anything ever.

    But those are one of the paper nest building wasps and they are the aggressive ones I was saying you should kill. They can attack without reason.

    Edymnion - I once was friendlier to spiders but had a big yellow golden orb (banana) spider run across my face while racing on bike in college. Totaled the bike and never got a new one, but sure have a long time hatred for spiders ever since. When one of those run across you glasses, you swear they are about 6 inches in diameter

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Spiders eat my bees, man! They gotta' go.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    Quote Originally Posted by marshmasterpat View Post
    Edymnion - I once was friendlier to spiders but had a big yellow golden orb (banana) spider run across my face while racing on bike in college. Totaled the bike and never got a new one, but sure have a long time hatred for spiders ever since. When one of those run across you glasses, you swear they are about 6 inches in diameter
    My biker friends all have a story about going 90mph on the freeway on their bikes when they found a spider in their helmet. I think it must be mandatory for that to happen at least once to anyone with a motorcycle.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Priest River, Idaho USA
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How do tell the good guys from the bad guys?

    I appreciate all this input very much. My dad always taught me to appreciate bees and I have never had a bee sting me without provocation. If one lands on me, I just leave it undisturbed until it flies off. These wasps in the paper nests are nasty, build everywhere and will sting without provocation. I think I will leave the honeycomb nested ones. I have some really awful spiders. They aren't poison but get so big that I sprayed one with wasp spray that was up in the rafters of my barn. when it hit the concrete, it landed with a thud. There is simply nothing positive they can contribute that outweighs how badly they creep me out. After all, if I drop dead from heart failure, it doesn't matter whether or not the spider was poison. Spiders, moles and ground squirrels are the only creatures I will make every effort to kill. Everything else has to provide a good reason.

    I have never seen a banana spider and I hope I never do!

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