are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Pitt, NC, USA
    Posts
    807

    Question are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    I'd've not thought to consider this prior to yesterday (I attended a local seminar on bees and heard there could be issues on this, so I'll ask).

    Since I began outside-feeding my bees some time back, I've noticed plenty of yellow jackets all over the feeder at various times. The bees seem to overwhelm them fast, once I pour the syrup onto the "birdbath" [my ad hoc "feeder"]. I've never noticed any YJs flitting around the entrances of my 2 colonies.

    SO ..... can the YJs be a problem for my colonies? Can they take over, somehow, and for some reason? Would that be something like SHB or moth conquests (weak hive = opportunities)? Potential disease issues?

    Do what people call "yellow bees" = YJs? With these creatures, I've never been attacked by them, even when I walk to the feeder to dump in the bee chow. A few seem to inspect me ("friend or foe?") and then wander away once they're satisfied I'm no problem. I don't have a camera, so can't send an example.

    Any thoughts/observations/theories would be appreciated .....
    Last edited by mlanden; 10-08-2017 at 07:07 AM. Reason: additional info

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,593

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    IMO yes, the population of yj’s should be controlled and they are a threat to a hive as bees cannot sting them only “ball” them in defense. The yj’s know this and if they can gain the upper hand, put a big hurt on a hive PDQ.
    Rod

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Same as bees, YJ's will sting to defend their colonies, or in fear, you get one between a boot and a leg, they will sting. I would think a strong colony of bees could defend themselves, but a weak colony could get overwhelmed.
    Interesting about your open feeding and not seeing YJ's at the hives. My theory is that it's easier to go after the feed out in the open, rather than having to fight for what is in the hive.
    I'm thinking I will do both, put syrup in my hives for my bees, and then put some out to draw away robbers and YJ's away from my hives. I've plenty of room, so the open feeding can be at least a thousand feet away from my hives.
    Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    743

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Absolutely! Last year in NorCal I lost a couple of weak hives to those nasty bugs. They absolutely overwhelmed the hive, with literally hundreds of them in the hive. Only defense was to restrict the entrance to a single bee width, that saved two other hives nearby.

    Here is a video of the entrance to one of the hives that was being attacked: https://youtu.be/NpcTuX811qg

    With that said, normally YJ's are far less of an issue for me. They're always around the hives but usually are just picking up the dead and dying bees on the ground.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    mineral county,Montana USA
    Posts
    1,325

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    here they are a real threat. i trap them from spring through fall. strong colonies can defend themselves, but the yj's will find any weakness.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Pitt, NC, USA
    Posts
    807

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Much obliged for the input, guys; thx, Bison, for the video link -- today's the day: I'm gonna cook up a trap. I had no idea the YJs were potentially such a threat to the bees .....

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Perkasie, Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    I've had very little issues with Yellow Jackets until this year, also name of local youth sport leagues, until I drove a nest out of a window sill hiding behind a bush a few weeks ago, since then they have been terrible, in my shop where I cook the syrup for the honey bees, at times driving me away. Only been stung once but hovering around me all the time. Now we have had some cooler weather they have been dying off, even some inside one hive.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    It's a big problem for us and though the home made traps work fine I find the pheremone traps work best. Only the newly mated wasp queens overwinter so you can put out a trap in the spring to catch the queens. I also reduce the entrance and with weaker hives or nucs I will reduce it to 2 bee widths (easier to defend). Stomping helps to . We call it the wasp dance.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Yes! Can be big trouble. I made the mistake last year of feeding too close to the hive, and wasps and yellow jackets of many types came to clean up. The yellow jackets soon found my hive and even pinching back the entrance to just one inch didn't keep them out.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,131

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    I've lost colonies that were crippled NY yj's. They can do a lot of damage. Controlling them can be challenging. I kill every one I find and actively seek out colonies.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Aroostook, ME, USA
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Frederick Dunn has a video on Youtube on open feeding and shows the YJ coming to the feeders and even has some YJ Queens coming to the feeders. I liked his Bugzooka for collecting them. But it also got me thinking that a quick switch of the feeders at night for traps would be a possible way to deal with the consequences of open feeding as the bees don't fly as late as the YJ do.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: are yellow jackets ever a threat to hives?

    Quick switch of the feeders sounds like a good idea. Having protective gear I've become the volunteer neighborhood problem wasp nest remover. A friend's daughter was stung 5 times yesterday by wasps from an underground nest in their garden which I'm guessing are western yellowjackets and another friend was stung today by a wasp from a bald faced hornet nest (a giant variety of yellow jacket) in her garden. I've identified 9 species of wasps in my garden including the ones that lay their eggs in my mason bee cocoons.

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