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Wasp & Bee Education

Wasps and bees are considered beneficial insects, although they are considered nuisance pests because they will sting when they feel threatened and can cause damage to structures. Bees and wasps sting in defense of their colonies. When stung, an individual is injected with a protein which will cause pain and other reactions. Some of these reactions may include: localized pain, swelling, redness, itching and tenderness. These reactions can be treated with topical analgesics, ice or other over-the-counter remedies. An allergic reaction may include: hives, rash, nausea, headache or minor respiratory symptoms. Vary rarely, an allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock (difficulty breathing, swelling or blockage of the throat) and can be life threatening. These systemic symptoms require immediate medical attention. People with known systemic allergic reactions to bee or wasp stings should consult with a physician.      

Bees

Domestic European Honey Bees (apis mellifera) are used in the United States for pollinating crops and ornamentals commercially. Sometimes wild or feral bees will decide to make nests in and around homes or other structures. We have found bee hives in many places, such as; inside walls; tree trunks; BBQs; cars; playhouses; attics; chimneys; underground service utility vaults; utility poles; sports field lighting; commercial signage; and the list goes on.

Honey bee nests are made from wax and are attached vertically to the upper surface of a joist or fire block, inside a tree to the top of the hollow. The bees in an active nest will keep it cool in the summertime by fanning their wings. In southern California, bee hives can be active all year round and continue to expand as more and more combs are added. These hives will become a nuisance because, as the honey builds up, it will start to stain walls and attract other pests, such as carpet beetles, rats and ants. Also, the bees will jealously defend their home when they feel threatened.

The Africanized Honey Bee (apis mellifera scutellata)is a sub-species of her European cousin. The species is more easily agitated and quick to defend their home. Sometimes just the start of a lawnmower engine in close proximity will set them off. It is difficult to tell the difference physically between the Africanized and the European bees. An entomologist will need to measure wing venation and color differences in certain body parts to identify the species, but to the casual observer they are almost identical.

Many different situations that we encounter require different strategies to get the job done. Ideally we would want to remove the colony intact and give it to a bee keeper. However, often times bee keepers will not take a colony of feral bees because they may have the African gene or may have viruses that may have been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder.

If you suspect you have a bee hive in your home or business, let our trained professional service technicians inspect it and devise a plan that is best for your situation.      

Solitary Bees

Not all bees live in colonies.  90% of all bee species are solitary bees. The female solitary bees will build their own nests in the ground, in cracks or crevices in walls, or in wood. Solitary bees are beneficial because they will gather nectar and pollen for the young and thus pollinate plants.

The more common of solitary bees are mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, sweat bees and carpenter bees. They vary in color from basic black to bright metallic green, blue or red. Some solitary bees can become a nuisance because they will cause damage to structures, while others are intimidating by their size and the sound as they fly around. 

Wasps

There are many species of wasps in Southern California, ranging from paper wasps (Polistinae) to mud wasps (Sphecidae) to bald faced hornets (D. maculata). They are considered beneficial because wasps help control other insect populations. Some commercial applications of wasps are used for organic pest control for growers of fruits and vegetables.

Wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera which includes bees and ants. Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times when threatened. Wasps can fall into two categories: social wasps and solitary wasps.

Solitary Wasps

Solitary wasps that are commonly found are: Mud Daubers; Cicada Killers and Tarantula Hawks which are typically unaggressive unless disturbed. Mud daubers can be a nuisance because they will build their mud nests on the walls of structures which are unsightly and difficult to remove. Cicada killers and Tarantula Hawks are a nuisance in the sense that they are big and intimidating. These wasps will sting their prey with a paralytic and place it in the nests with their eggs. Cicada Killers and Tarantula Hawks make their nests in the ground and will drag their prey to the nests.

Social Wasps

Social wasps that are commonly found are paper wasps; yellow jackets and hornets. More commonly we find paper wasp nests under eves of houses or in garages and attics. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps because the shape of their nests that look like an umbrella. Like yellow jackets and hornets, paper wasps will construct their nests with chewed-up wood fibers and saliva. However, paper wasps will only build one comb with no protective envelope.

Yellow jackets will build their nests underground, taking advantage of abandoned rodent burrows or hollowed tree stumps. Yellow jackets are typically docile until disturbed. When their nest is threatened, they can become very aggressive and sting multiple times. The colonies are annual with just the fertilized queen left to over-winter in a protected area. She will then emerge in spring and select a nest and build a paper comb to lay her brood of about 30-50 eggs. The nest will grow to about 5,000 by late summer. Sometimes these nests can be stumbled upon walking through a field where the colony is just below the surface of the ground.

The bald-faced hornet is actually a subspecies of the yellow-jacket. The hornet is longer and lacks the yellow coloring of the yellow jacket and has distinctive stripes around her abdomen. She will build her nests in trees or attics, we have found hornets nests in public bathrooms and equipment sheds. Like her congener, the yellow jacket, the hornet can become very aggressive when the nest is disturbed, stinging multiple times. The nests are typically 23 inches in length and have a distinctive mosaic pattern and may house up to 700 hornets.

Whatever type of stinging pest that may be invading your home or business, we understand the importance of controlling or removing them and we are experts at handling any situation.