A few days ago, we received a call from a local police department, relaying a citizen’s concern of a large hornet nest. Upon arriving on the scene, we quickly determined that the situation did not involve hornets and was no cause for concern. Instead, what we found was quite exciting-the first reported honeybee swarm of the season!
What’s happening in this situation is just one of the many fascinating qualities of the European honeybee species. The bees in this swarm represent roughly half of a colony, and recently left their nest to make a new home where they can expand their population. While scouts seek the new location, the others have formed a temporary nest around this tree. Their queen is somewhere in the middle, and the exterior layer of honeybees beat their wings continuously to keep the interior bees warm. As the cold air kills off the outside layer, the next bees in line take over the job. Within a few days, the swarm will be off to build their new nest.
Ever since they escaped from their early colonist hives, European honeybees have played a vital role in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. As one of 3,600 bee species in North America, the work they do to gather nectar (their favorite food) also helps spread pollen among wild plant species. But of all of those other species, European honeybees are most helpful to farmers, pollinating roughly one-third of the food eaten by Americans. Also, let’s not forget the many useful benefits of the honey and beeswax that they produce-the two reasons why colonists brought them to America.
Sadly, honeybee populations are facing several threats, as studies show that U.S. beekeeper colonies declined by 44% between 2015 and 2016, and wild populations declined across 23% of the U.S. land area between 2008 and 2013. Scientists attribute some of the losses to pesticides, climate change, habitat loss, the mysterious colony collapse disorder. The most significant threat may be Varroa destructor, the Asian mite that invaded the U.S. about three decades ago and has since proven resistant to many eradication efforts. As if that’s not enough, scientists now hope to prevent the next potential threat following the discovery of Asian giant hornets in the Pacific northwest.
In response to these many threats, efforts are forming across the U.S. to restore wild bee habitats, improve domestic beekeeping methods, reduce pesticides and increase awareness of their role in the ecosystem. We should be celebrating bees, not worrying about restoring them to their habitats. They are responsible for a lot of things that can benefit us, so they should be protected by as many people as possible. And if that means getting involved with, or starting your own fundraiser with the likes of GoFundMe, then that is what you should do. By doing this, the world’s agriculture supply, that bees are important for, will be protected and that should be our priority. So, while experts work to save these friends to farmers and Mother Nature alike, we hope you’ll find a new appreciation for this phenomenal species.
As the lazy days of summer roll in, you may begin noticing a lot of wasp activity. This is partly because, in spring, queen wasps reemerge from their overwinter nests and begin laying eggs to start a new colony. Queen wasps will continue reproducing and a colony can consist of hundreds to thousands of workers. During the summer months, wasps tend to stay close to their nests, which is bad news if they’ve decided to build one on or around your property.
The first thing you should know is how to identify a wasp as they are often confused with bees. There are a few ways to distinguish between wasps and bees. First, the abdomen of a wasp narrows before connecting to the thorax. Second, wasps have much less hair and third, wasp colonies are typically smaller than the average bee colony.
Wasps are dangerous! Here are some things you can do to deter them from building nests on your property and to keep yourself safe:
1. During the summer, wasps are attracted to protein foods. Do not leave food or open garbage cans on or around your property.
2. Seal vents, repair screens, and close up any cracks around windows and door frames where wasps may build nests or enter your home through.
3. Don’t swat or squash a wasp. Squashed wasps will release pheromones which will attract other wasps.
4. Keep your lawn short and your bushes trimmed
5. Remove sources of excess water
If you believe you have a wasp nest on your property, we do not recommend trying to remove it yourself! Please call a professional to do the job instead. Call Freedom Pest Control today for all your wasp removal needs at 877-PESTS-55!