if you do a search on them here you can read my saga from last year. i had them wipe out whole hives, and i filled a shopvac more than once sucking them off the outside of hives i had taped shut. it was a very unusual thing but it was pretty awful as well. i put my traps out 3 weeks ago. justin
They aren't a big problem, yet. Yellow jackets can be a huge problem later in summer and especially fall. This time of year the colonies are small but by summers end those few workers you see could be hundreds. Find the nest now and eliminate them before they can grow. They build both underground nest and also the ball shaped nest in trees and under the eaves of a building. I think you can set out wasp traps, just make sure your bees aren't being trapped also. A few yellow jackets your bees can handle but I have seen them overrun a weak hive is years past. They can also make your bees very defensive. The fall is when yellow jackets really get desperate. They don't store food like honeybees so when the bugs and nectar they eat goes away they really become aggressive. They'll start going after any protein or sugar source the can find, like the brood and honey in a honeybee hive.
I was watching my newly split hive yesterday and was horrified to watch two YJs tear a honeybee in half!
Checked again today and there they were, pickin off my girls!
Disgusting! I have a new purpose in life!
While my son was mowing last night he found 2 differnet holes with them coming and going. Luckily he saw them before he ran over them. He ran over one last year so he is very observant of them now LOL. I got the gas can and a lighter, they will not be bothering my hives this fall.
Wasp trap that can be purchased at HD or Lowes work well. My neighbor has some on the side of his house. When we checked it, there were no bees in it at all. Another 2 liter bottle method I have used is cut a hole in the bottle high up on the side, put some orange juice in the bottom with a lil piece of bacon. I have have not seen too many yellow jackets this year though, just the one that nailed me from the fence back in March or so.
Many feral colonies handle the problem of predators by using indirect entrances. Don't know whether it is accidental or intentional on their part but it works to protect the colony.
The beekeeper's equivalent of an indirect entrance is a robber screen at the entrance to frustrate predators.
Make yourself a wire screen by stapling #8 hardware cloth the width of the hive to a pair of 1x2s that are 6" in length. Screw the 1x2s at the edge of the hive. By leaving a lip of screen at the bottom you can either bend it to sit flush, maybe even staple it to the landing floor.
The bees inside will realize they cannot exit through the wire so they will crawl up the hive box and fly in/out above the wire.
YJs and other predators will stay low, banging away at the wire in front of the entrance where the odors are issuing from.
I've killed two nests of them this year.
One was under the porch and got the spray treatment (deep into their hive entrance hole).
The other was far enough from my house that I could use my favorite method for disposing of yellow jackets: a large propane torch directed into the entrance.
Last year I lost a hive to YJ's. It was a weak hive, but should have made it thru the summer easily. The YJ's were terrible, with at least 6 - 10 on the one hive every time I checked it. I spent a good hour swatting'em and killed a good 30 during that hour. It was bad. The other two hives did well, so they picked on the weaker hive. Once they target a hive it's a serious issue.
This year I used the 2 liter JY trick and it seems to be working well. I still see a few YJ's, but nothing like last year. If you got a problem, you need to be aggressive if you want to get rid of them.
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