Sunday, April 04, 2010

Bees, Wasps and Such

I have tons of bees on my property.  Friggin TONS of them.  OK - that's probably a taxonomic misnomer:  most of them are probably varieties of wasps.  There are yellow jackets, other kinds of paper wasps, mud wasps, carpenter bees, and other various unpleasantries with long hanging stingers.  My barn is ground zero for the majority of these things.   I don't think any of these are honeybees.  Today I encountered a new breed of nuisance - these little teeny bees/wasps that look like they those undercover flies that are disguised as bees - only these ones actually were bees - and they were swarming about right near ground level.  You can't see any of the varieties in this picture, but you can get an idea of the kind of wasp-paradise that the barn is.  Imagine if you're standing in this hay-loft and you look up.  You will see a plethora of wasps nests.

I am a bee-pussy. I'm not afraid to admit it.  I got stung a handful of times when I was a kid, and then I probably went 10 years without being stung by a bee, until I got stung a few times at my buddy Gabe's house in Western Mass back when I was in high school.  We were running up his deck's steps, and there was a nest underneath.  They came out, flew into my t-shirt (which I promptly whipped off, both to prevent them from getting stuck and stinging me more, and to intimidate them with my ripped muscles) and stung me 3 times.  Now, I was a tough high school kid at this point, and figured that the bee stings I'd remembered from my childhood only hurt because I was a wimpy 7 year old.   Nope - these high school stings hurt for almost a week, and I vowed to do everything in my power to avoid being stung in the future, even if it means acting like a total wuss.

So, the question is - what should I do?  Today, looking up in my barn, there were wasps SWARMING at the apex of the roof on the inside (I'm overstating it a bit, probably - there were, at most, hundreds - not thousands).  It's about 2 1/2 stories high.  One school of thought is: leave them alone.  Ok - but here's the thing - it's all fine and dandy as long as they stay up there where they are supposed to, but they move around, and I don't want to get a surprise of a face full of wasps when I move the wrong thing in my barn and find that they've decided to make a nest there.

Also, I have at least one bat that survived the White Nose Disease, and is living in the barn.  We could hear him squeaking today, telling the wasps to "leave me the f*@k alone" as they swarmed around his domain.  I hope the wasps don't kill the bat, but they might.  Also, attempting to kill the wasps with spray poison might kill the bat.

Wasps that build nests on the eves of my house which I can reach will be destroyed.  That much has already been decided.  Unfortunately for me, there are numerous places on the exterior of my house that I won't be able to reach, and that they've already begun building nests on.  Fahhhhhhhk.

Does anyone have a preferred wasp-killing-spray that they use?  Does anyone say "whatever you do, don't kill them - they are essential to your landscape?"  I know that wasps are supposed to eat caterpillars and flies and stuff, but I think I'd prefer flies to wasps...We also have a MAJOR ladybug infestation - and the wasps are doing jack crap about that. At least if they were eliminating the ladybugs we could have a discussion - but hey, wasps, I'm not feeling your benefit!



J said...

What's so scary about ladybugs?

Kid Dynamite said...

i didn't say ladybugs are scary - but they are indeed a nuisance. as far as infestations go, it's probably the best kind - certainly better than mice, roaches, ants or bees, but i'd still rather not have to dispose of 700 ladybugs PER DAY - which is the pace my wife has been vacuuming them up at.

Mrs. Dynamite said...

There were max 20 wasps "swarming" at the top of the barn (which is 3 stories above our heads).

Just need to clarify, since I don't feel that the magnitude of my husband's bee-pussiness was adequately conveyed.

Love you KD!! :)

Kid Dynamite said...

oh man Mrs. D - we'll see who is laughing next time you stir up the fury of the wasp army...

Anonymous said...

Blow torch. Back stopped with your water hose ready to go.

Man it up, kid.


Bob Dobb

Anonymous said...


Don't be afraid to admit it. I hate wasps too. (Though I have no problem with honey bees.) Between yellow jackets and mosquitoes, I'd just as well have them bring back DDT.

A while ago, I was using some orange flavored multipurpose cleaner to clean up my stainless steel gas grill. At my house, the yellow jackets seem to really like the shellfish and lobster residue on my grill, and they builds nests inside there, under it, under the side-car burner, everywhere. I grill a few times a week, and if I step away for more then 48 hours, the little b@$tards are back.

So since it is what I happen to have in my hand at the moment, I start to spray at them with the Orange-POWER! cleaner. Well, as it turns out, Orange flavored multipurpose cleaner is apparently Kryptonite for yellow jackets.

It doesn't kill them immediately, but they fall, writhing in pain, thud on the deck. And then I step on them.

So I've taken to using it everywhere I have stinging insect issues. Seems to work pretty well.

So, I'm not sure what it might do to the bat (or me via my grilling surface), but it certainly is less toxic then your average flying insect repellent.

And it smells nice.


oddlot said...

i have had success with the traps - a translucent plastic thing you hang from a tree with an attractant inside. i was surprised - they all went in there and died. no wasps left in 100 foot radius.

J Johnson said...

I have used wasp killer in a can (see link) and it is quite effective. Spray in early morning and/or sunset when they are least active (and probably in or near the nest). The can sprays for 20 ft or so, so you should be able to get at a good part of the barn. The stuff is nasty though, definitely don't want to get any in the eyes/mouth. Might kill the bat, but if you know where the bat is, you might be able to avoid getting him (the spray is pretty narrow).

Anonymous said...

It is probably too early in the year to go into all out attack mode against bees/wasps with hopes of eliminating them as a threat.

If you launch a major offensive now, there is a good chance you will be doing round two in about 4-6 weeks.

The best advise is to hire a professional.

The Bracelet said...

Do you run and scream like a little bitch when they swarm near you?

I do.

Now I can't remember if I ever wrote about the wasp infestation in my rarely used GMC Jimmy. I had to sprint from my car squealing like a little girl twice before I killed them all.

I say, do whatever you have to do. Kill the bat, ruin the wood, anything. ANYTHING.

Stinging insects deserve it.