Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Inyo County, California
    Posts
    4

    Default Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Hi all,

    We set up our first hive last April, and the colony was doing great. 2 brood chambers and a honey super all packed by August. The outer frames still had some room left, so we left off adding another honey super until it began looking like an Indian Summer out here in Cali. If the bees were gonna keep finding abundant food thru the fall and maybe even early winter, more honey for all of us!

    So in October we stole 2 full frames of honey and added a new box. Hive seemed sort of lacking in bees, but it was a really warm day and the pepper trees were full of bees, so I figured our girls were mostly out working.

    2 weeks later I went to take a look and to my horror I found a bunch of wax casings and swarms of yellow jackets and robber bees. We snagged up the hive, and ended up getting about 5 gallons of honey out of it, but of course our colony was dead.

    All summer and fall, the yellow jacket presence was heavy at the hive. I rooted out two yellow jacket hives on our own property, and there were at least 2 more that were preying on our girls - the yellow jackets pestering the hive would, in addition to killing and carrying away our girls, fight viciously with each other.

    Put up a bunch of yellow jacket traps, but they only worked marginally. I'd catch & kill more yellow jackets with my butterfly net in an hour than the traps would catch in 3 days. On the final day, the air was so thick with the yellow jackets that I had to put the full bee suit on to just approach the hive. Now that our hive is gone I have a better appreciation of just how many yellow jackets we were up against, because without the hive as a food source the little devils are scouring for food everywhere. You can't walk across our yard without passing 20 or 30 of them hunting for prey in the grasses and weeds.

    So... the million-dollar question - what can we do next year? Buy a more aggressive strain of bees? More traps? Is there a poison I can use that the yellow jackets will take back to their hive and kill them? Will having more than 1 hive present help rebuff invaders, or will that just be a bigger food source for them?

    Ours were supposedly an extra-docile strain of Italians, and they really didn't appear to be putting up much of a fight. Sure, they'd drive yellow jackets out that actually tried to enter the hive, but that's where the chase ended, and the rebuffed yellow jacket would just keep trying until it manged to kill a returning bee, taking her body and her honey/pollen with it.

    Thanks in advance.
    -- Ouka, Bee-less in Cali

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Inyo County, California
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    whoops, wrong forum. Is there a mod that could move this down to the Diseases and Pests forum? I didn't realize I clicked the wrong forum header!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    654

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Ouka , I'm looking forward to hearing some responses on this as well. Finding the yellowjackets nest and pouring hot water on it mixed with vinegar was the only thing beside setting traps that I could find when I was seeng a bunch of yellow jackets this summer. I didn't make any traps. The hot water on the nest helped but never fully killed the yellow jackets nest. I wish you luck and hope some solutions come up. VW

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Pitt County, North Carolina, United States
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Hey Ouka and virginiawolf:

    I am a first year beekeeper and I have not had a serious problem with yellow jackets but just enough that I wanted to be rid of them. After searching the forum, I found this. I know they work because I tried them. The key is fermentation to avoid attracting bees.

    There is another recipe from kevink that I used with similar results.

    If you see bees in your traps, then the liquid has not fermented enough. I like this trap because not only will it kill yellow jackets, but also flies and moths. Good riddance to all!

    Good luck.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Indian River, Florida
    Posts
    256

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    There are several different trap designs and bait formulas, they work well, but finding the yellow jacket nest is the cure all method. Yes, it could be some distance away, but usually the yellow jacket nest will be closer than you think. Find it if you can and give them a good bath of gasoline and light the fire.
    As far as traps go the inverted bottle cap design works well. Throw somw meat in that trap and watch the yellow jackets go to the bait.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Inyo County, California
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    I had a bunch of traps out, and they were working in that they filled up with yellow jackets. Several hundred dead easy per week, not including the legions I caught with my nets and crushed.

    Problem is, I was apparently up against thousands. Despite emptying full traps about twice a week I never saw a decrease in the number of yellow jackets at our hive. If anything their numbers were constantly increasing.

    We own a largish property (for the area), 1.5 acres, butted up against a couple of similarly sized lots plus in-fill developments. Like I said, I rooted out two (large!) yellow jacket hives on our property, but didn't find anything on the other properties. Short of hopping fences I've exhausted what's available to me in going straight to the source.

    I'll try hanging more traps I guess, had 4 up, will try a few more.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    mineral county,Montana USA
    Posts
    1,325

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    i have had similar experiences. i filled up my shop-vac twice this year with yellowjackets and still had big losses. i live in the woods and can't imagine finding all the nests, so in the spring (late may) i try to catch the queens with the store bought pheramone traps. early in the summer i plan to use poisoned meat, inside a closed live trap so nothing bigger can get to it. when they get bad (august) they are only after sweets so theres not much you can do besides the traps. i think i'll make robber screens for my hives but since they can fight their way in through every crack i don't expect it to stop them. having huge healthy colonies helps, but they will find the weakest one and work on it till it falls. its frustrating. i was building trails on the continental divide this summer, we were working above 9,500 ft. elevation and in 5 narrow miles i found 6 yellow jacket nests. i was asking myself "why don't i raise these things? they're tough and adaptable"

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Carlton,WA,USA
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Robbing by bees or wasps is like a shark feeding frenzy. Destruction happens very quickly.
    Stop it at once.

    To stop robbing:

    Screen all entrances closed for 24 hours. Duct tape any cracks.
    No one gets in, no one gets out.
    If weather is hot, give the trapped bees a feeder of water and a screened upper hole.

    After 24 hours wasps lose interest.

    Reopen a reduced entrance or use a robber screen.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Starke, Florida, USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    How about this for luck,
    today i was outside talking on the phone with my grandfather. I turned around and watched something fall out of a tree. to my surprise it was about 10 to 15 drone yellow jackets balled up on a queen yellow jacket. what do you know. a queen yellow jacket out on her mating flight. i then took my knife, decapitated it's head, and thought of the nest that might quit bothering my hives in a few weeks. well unless they still had their older queen. All in all it was a good day.
    There is no INTELLIGENT life on any other planet, they're probably like us!!!!

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,493

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    I removed our hog pens on Saturday and in the process killed 2 queens that were hiberating in the cracks of some wood. I havnt had a problem with yellow jackets here, the bee's seem to do a fine job of fending them off. A few years ago I found a couple underground wasp nests, marked them and waited till dark........then I broke out the Raid and doused the heck out of them. The next day when I dug them up they were HUGE paper nests about the size of two basket balls.

    I have found small nests of bumble bee's, but choose to leave them alone as they havnt bothered my bee's or us.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,088

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    I think it's a constant battle. I have one nest that I struggle with every year. It's under the shrubs near the front corner of the house. Hard to get at, can't use anything flammable and when I think I finally kill it, they come back. For me, baiting has worked the best (or at least seeing hundreds of dead yellow jackets just makes me feel better) but I believe that you need to start with strong colonies. Everything else should supplement that effort.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    3,221

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    For me, baiting has worked the best (or at least seeing hundreds of dead yellow jackets just makes me feel better)
    What kind of bait? Is there anything that they will take back to the hive and kill off the queen?
    "...fascists divide themselves into two categories: fascists and antifascists" Ennio Flaiano

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon City, Oregon
    Posts
    977

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    Is there anything that they will take back to the hive and kill off the queen?
    1 can tuna drained mix with 1 tube frontline flea and tick med place near hive but not where animals can eat it and say goodbye to the nest....
    Honeydew

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    3,221

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    Quote Originally Posted by HONEYDEW View Post
    .... say goodbye to the nest....
    Eeexcellent (insert evil laugh)
    "...fascists divide themselves into two categories: fascists and antifascists" Ennio Flaiano

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,748

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    The secret to yellow jacket traps is the right bait for the time of year. Sugar syrup isn't the best bait late in the year, meat is. A mixture of both doesn't hurt.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,088

    Default Re: Yellow Jackets, and what to do next year?

    I agree with Michael Bush. I seldom bait early in the year but have baited with old meat from the fridge. I've never used anything that they can take back to the nest to kill the queen. Just the old soda bottle routine with a skewer and some meat.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

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