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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It was warm enough today that my bees were flying, because of such I though it would be a good time to give them some more 2:1 syrup. My hive is currently configured as two deeps for brood/winter stores, followed by an inner cover, on top of that is a frameless medium super, with a garden cover including a secondary top entrance topping the hive off. I have the winter feed in bordman/entrance feeder sitting on top of the inner cover within the empty medium (there also exists a essential oil enhanced grease patty on wax paper, and an old coffee can of burr comb for the bees to pick at). As I was changing out the empty bottle of feed with a fresh one I noticed that two small yellow jackets climbed out of the brood box along side the many other bees, acting as if they belonged. The numerous bees did not seem to care that they had some non family roommates. The yellow jackets seemed to be just as calm as my bees and could completely care less about me. Is this anything to worry about, if so what should I do about it?


Just to be sure, as it looks like a yellow jacket to me, here is a pic
 

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I don't think it's a YJ. Ours are not that fat. And are you sure bees were flying? Our forecast high was 20 and It doesn't look like we hit it. Snowing, windy and bitter cold right now.

My vote on the Wasps or whatever, I would have separated their head form the rest of them with my trusty hive tool.

Reason: Bees eat pollen and nectar. Sometimes homemade nectar. Wasps, hornets, and YJs eat meat. Maybe your brood. From what I've heard only the queens overwinter but if something is finding a place to change that, I'm getting nervous.

This entire post is just a guess until someone IDs your stowaways.

Hawk
 

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Hornets and yellow jackets do indeed feed or steal honey from the hive, and sugar feed if available. Yes, they do feed on dead and killed bees and many times you will see them scavenging the front of the hive for discarded bees. There are so many kinds of wasps and other bees that individualizing the conversation down to each and every kind of hornet, wasp, etc, is alot to discuss.

The main point is that it is common to see a yellow jacket or other, visit and steal from a hive. If the bees don't seem to mind it is probably a good indication that the hive is not threatened and under attack on any level to be concerned with.

I am not sure the actual name of yellow jacket in the picture. There are many. I would not worry. But if given the opportunity, I do smash the ones that let me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
...are you sure bees were flying?
Well, they were either flying or jumping real high
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My nifty digital thermometer with a memory claims that the high today in the shade was 49 degrees, My hive is in the morning/afternoon sun so I guess it was warm enough for them. Russian bees supposedly fly during poorer conditions.

As for killing the wasps, I captured and did away with one of them, the other got away.
 

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"Possible explanation??" I cut down a dead hickory tree recently that suffered from a lightening strike and died. This tree had numerous deep cracks into the trunk. I was surprised at the number and variety of wasps (mainly red wasps and yellow paper wasps) that were huddled in it for the winter. There must have been a hundred or more. These were all presumably bred queens and VERY docile. Is it possible that the wasps you describe in your hive were a couple of bred queens that simply chose to overwinter in the hive and entered the hive when the bees were in a loose cluster. After a couple of days they would have absorbed the hive scent and may not be recognized as intruders? Is that possible or probable?

Just curious,
David
 

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Very possible and likely. Remember bees, in throwing out intruders such as wasps sometimes take on casualties. It could be that the threat is small and the cost is not worth it to bees. Ther know they need to last till spring.
Also realize that hives always have a host of other insects inside. Roaches, beetles(good and bad), flies, and the like. It is a huge cavity normally occuped by more than the bees. I am sure they feel risk level and threats and this probab;y changes through the year.
 

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looks like a bald face hornet
 

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The photo clearly shows a yellowjacket. Bald-faced hornets are predominantly black with very pale-yellow markings. Without looking at the specimen in person, I wouldn't want to make any guesses about which species your specimen is. From general appearances, though, it looks as though it might be a queen trying to overwinter in the hive.

Yellowjacket workers will feed on sweets, especially after their queen dies in the fall. Think of the way honey bees act in a queenless hive. I've had large numbers of yellowjackets trying to rob honey bee hives sometimes in the September and early October. Yellowjackets feed their larvae meat, but the adult workers need to eat, too, and they will eat sweets if they find them.
 

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I don't want to quibble on this, but markings on yellowjackets vary considerably, even within a colony. Think of your bees -- do all the bees in a hive look the same? Many species of yellowjackets are marked almost identically, too.

Systematists or taxonomists, the people who name these critters and work on identifying them, use other characteristics. That's why I want to see it in person before I would put a name with it.

I'm not saying it isn't a "western yellowjacket" (whatever species that may be), just that it might be something closely related.
 

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Thanks Jim, now can you tell a worker from a queen. If this is a fertilized overwintering queen then hive tooling her would really affect the population next year.

Hawk
 
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