1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. KevinM

    KevinM New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    We have noticed bees flying around our deck in the back yard, strangely they seem to be carrying something green in their legs. Today I managed to find out where they are going. We have a half barrel planter on the deck and they are going into a 1/4" hole in the soil. We never see more than one bee at a time but there is allot of air traffic, either one bee is going back and forth or they do relays. I don't want to blast them with bug spray but we have two children under five who play on the deck most afternoons. Will they keep to themselves or get aggressive with the noise and vibrations from the kids playing? Is there any safe way to encourage them to go elsewhere?

    Kevin.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,088
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Sounds to me like you have a "ground nest" in your barrel. Get rid of them. They just might get jumpy on ya if that barrel was to get wacked around with a basketball or a kid with a plastic bat.

    If you don't want to "eliminate" the little buggers, take a plastic garbage bag and cover the top and then run some duct tape around it to secure, then move the barrel.
  3. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    This is about the time of year when yellow jackets start building nests, in places like old holes in the ground, and maybe they chose your planter. Are you sure they're bees? What many people call "bees" are actually yellow jackets. Check out some pics of them on google and see if that's what they are. YJ can be aggressive and definitely should be removed if they are near a frequented area.

    Bumblebees also live in the ground, but are very passive. You could probably ignore them unless the kids refuse to keep away from them.
  4. KevinM

    KevinM New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Definitely not yellow jackets or bumblebees. They have a fuzzy look about them and not bright yellow.

    Any ideas what they are carrying into the nest?

    Kevin.
  5. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    If they're fuzzy, it means they must be some type of bee, and so they're unlikely to sting, and I think at least some solitary bees that build ground nests are unable to sting. I have a lot of landscaped property, and the only time I intervene is when YJ or any wasp is starting to build a nest. I leave all the bees alone, because they generally aren't aggressive.

    Not sure what they're carrying back inside.
  6. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    BTW--how can you be sure they're not bumblebees? They are fuzzy, and can be different colors, and often seem to run "laps" or do relays from the nest to elsewhere and back again. They build their nests in soil, and in general you only see one of them at a time. In fact, the only times I even knew they had built nests on my land was when I happened to stare long enough at a spot of ground, and saw one emerge from a hole.
  7. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,700
    Loc:
    CNY
    Yeah if they're fuzzy/hairy they could be good bee's that you don't want to kill...and pro beekeepers will recover them. So give your co-operative extension agent a call and they'll recommend a bee keeper. As a general rule of thumb mostly wasps nest in the ground...and I'll spray them without a moments hesitation.
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Among other things, I am a beekeeper... First step is to identify what you have. Honeybees tend to make LARGE colonies, with lots of bees coming and going at the same time. However they are generally quite mellow unless you are seriously in their flight path, or are disturbing the hive - I can stand next to my hives and watch the traffic w/ no gear and no problems - I've also run around with the weed whacker directly in front of the hive entrance, again no issues.... However if you go rapping on the side, you are likely to get nailed, and when they sting, it releases a pherome that tells the other bees "Enemy here - ATTACK" so you may get multiple stings if you get any... (If attacked, leave the area rapidly, and attempt to break the line of sight - go through some bushes or around a corner to get out of sight of the hive.)

    Honeybees are typically fairly small, about 1/4"-1/2" long, and will generally have a banded tail, alternating dark gold and black to solid black - they will have a visibly fuzzy thorax (where the wings attach) Bumble bees and carpenter bees are much larger, tend to be fuzzy all over, and have a brighter yellow and black coloration. They also tend to be fairly non-agressive.

    Wasps and yellow jackets often, but not always, have a bright color pattern, and will generally be smooth with little or no "fuzz" - they tend to be very agressive. The difference is that bumble and honey bees are vegitarians by nature, and sting only as a last resort or to protect the hive - stinging is fatal to a honeybee so its the last thing in the world she wants to do. (Only the sterile female worker bees will sting - the males can't) Thus the only time a honey bee will sting is if it feels trapped (i.e. you are stepping on it) or if you are trying to get into the hive...

    Wasps and yellow jackets are predators, and the sting is part of their hunting equipment - they can sting as many times as they want to, so they tend towards what I call the "Dirty Harry" attitude - "go ahead, make my day" They are more likely to be ground nesters though.

    If they are honeybees, they are extremely valuable to have around, and are generally protected critters, you don't want to kill them if at all possible. At the same time they probably aren't great to have in a kid's play area. Some beekeepers will be interested in catching them to put in a hive, others may charge you. The important thing in either case is to get all the bees you can, and to block up the entrance so that it's no longer a potential home for another swarm to move into...

    If they are not honeybees, pesticides are a good idea, the other varieties aren't terribly useful to humans, and aren't endangered...

    Given that you say they are nesting in the ground, I'd be inclined to think they are some sort of wasp or yellow jacket, possibly something like a bald-faced hornet (hornets are also NASTY....)

    As to the stuff they are carrying back to the nest... If they are predatory, it is likely catapillars or other insects that they have killed and are bringing home to raise their young on. If they are honeybees, it is likely pollen.

    Honeybees collect pollen as they go from flower to flower. They scrape it off and pack it into structures called "pollen baskets" on their hind legs. They bring it back to the hive in these baskets, so when they land, it looks like they have a pair of footballs on their hind legs (and the pollen balls are about that scale) These pollen balls can vary amazingly in their color, depending on what kinds of plants the bees are foraging on - I've seen white to yellow, to green, red, and even black...

    If you have the room for it (and it doesn't take much) beekeeping is one of the easiest forms of animal husbandry there is, and it's a very useful thing to do as it will greatly increase the yields of all the flowering plants and vegetables in your area - about 1/2 the stuff you see in the grocery store is pollenated by honeybees... (and locally produced honey is much better for you than the over processed store bought stuff...)

    Gooserider
  9. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    Could they be Orchard Mason Bees? they are also benificial and gentle

    Attached Files:

  10. KevinM

    KevinM New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Didn't see any bees flying in and out this weekend. I had to remind my father in law not to stand next to the planter two weeks ago. Hopefully they found a better place for their hive. I will not be digging into the planter to see if there is anything inside until next spring to carefully plant more flowers.

    Kevin.
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,425
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Kevin- good for you taking the high road in dealing with whatever is in there!

    I've been stung 3 times this year- first on my pinky and calf (2 at once), then on the top of my head. I didn't see them first in either incident, but must have been working around the hive. The second one I found a big nest hanging from the roof of my kiln shed- if they attack me when I'm just standing there swinging a weed cutter, then they would be hell come next kiln firing- I had to blast them. Big white-tail stripey wasps. Even so- they were just doing their thing out there and I almost felt bad for them... almost :)
  12. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    9,138
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I've never found a honey bee nest in the wild. Always the little black ones. Now that I am severely allergic to bee venom I kill all hives I find on or near the home. No questions asked. If I had a hive on my deck, it would be dead in a heart beat. My gosh.
  13. KevinM

    KevinM New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    We were a bit concerned since my daughter got stung by a wasp at the start of the summer. Bite on her pinky made half way to her elbow turn red and puffy. We had her tested for insect venom allergies and she isn't allergic but does have a strong reaction. So no epi-pen just benadryl.

    I did a quick look and the wasps were building a nest inside the tennis net post and they were aggressive. The bees on our deck would make an approach and break of if someone was in the way, after a few attempt they would leave for a while and presumably try again later. There is a greenspace across the street from us so they could easily find somewhere quieter. Don't know if the 39 days with rain in June and July was a problem for them.

    Anything agressive or that builds a nest on the kids toys gets sprayed. It was nice to have some useful insects around.

    Kevin.
  14. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    Sure glad you don't find any honey bee hives Highbeam... ;-) But keep on spraying those hornets.It used to be that every dandelion and clover flower in our yard, when I was young, had a honey bee on it, doing what they do.These days, its sad but I rarely see one. We live in an area with lots of fruit and vegetable farms and honey bees are treated like rock stars around here. They get moved from field to field as the different crops need pollination. They pay thousands of dollars to get hives brought in just for a few weeks. Since the hive collapse syndrome has been around farmers are worried that they wont have enough Honey bees to Pollinate all the crops, and are looking for replacements and the Orchard Mason bees work somewhat. they nest in holes and can be lured by drilling holes in a piece of wood and putting it where the fruit is grown. A lot harder work than working with honey bees though. But if nothing is found to replace them, or cure the hive collapse problem, look for fruit and vegetable prices to go even higher.
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    One of the interesting things to note, is that the Hive Collapse Disorder seems to be mostly a problem for the "migratory" guys - specifically the ones you talk about that move their hives from place to place... From the bee's standpoint, it is anything but the life of a rockstar - it is extremely stressfull, the hives are managed to maximize population, and they are kept at a far higher population density than would be desirable in a backyard beekeeper setup. To compensate, the bees tend to be fed a lot of artificial feeds (such as High Fructose Corn Syrup) and be heavily medicated...

    The backyard beekeepers aren't seeming to have a big problem with HCD - A fair number of other issues such as Varroa mites, there's a nasty hive beetle in some parts of the country, and the various diseases that have long been a problem, but nothing we can't cope with, and mostly things that are only an issue if you have stressed bees...

    It can be a bit of a challenge to keep bees in a heavy farming area (because of the pesticide use when the cash plants aren't flowering) but it's quite doable, and one or two hives can improve the vegetation growth in a huge area - I can't say enough to encourage people to look into beekeeping... One or two hives can pollinate everything in your yard, and then some, and provide you with all the honey you can use...

    Gooserider
  16. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    Hey gooserider, I seem to see that many rock stars have high stress, drug addiction and burn out and die at a young age so I still think its a perfect analogy... :cheese: Some of my fondest childhood memories were helping my uncle tend his 20 or so hives. I always liked when he was using the extractor, spinning out the honey and he would cut a piece of comb off a frame and let me pop it in my mouth. To this day I still put honey on my corn flakes instead of white sugar.... Yum... I have always wanted to get a hive or two of my own but I live in the woods and I think there are to many critters (skunks, opossum's, coons) around that also like honey.
  17. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Actually small four legged critters are pretty easy to deal with, it is no harder to keep them out of the hives than it is to keep them out of your garbage - maybe easier... I know we have skunks and possums in our neighborhood, as I've seen them... Never had a problem with the hives, though we are in fairly woodsy suburban country. I haven't seen any coons, but would be surprised if there weren't any. OTOH, Bears are a real problem, which can be dealt with, but are much harder to stop...

    Possums and coons are stopped by the "heavy weight on the lid" if needed, and skunks are stopped by simply putting the hive on a stand so that the landing board is 18-24" off the ground - this makes the skunk have to stand up on his hind legs to try and raid the hive (they are more into the bees than the honey BTW) - exposing his sensitive belly to the guard bees... This also helps discourage other small critters as well. Some folks also find it useful to put down a few scraps of carpet tack strip on the front of the landing board - doesn't bother the bees, but sure causes other critters to keep the paws off...

    Bears are more of a problem, as it pretty much takes a physical barricade to stop them, and they are strong enough to get past most barriers... Some folks claim that motion activated lights / noisemakers can work, or an electric fence, but there are also lots of reports of them failing. One of the better approaches I've heard of is to sink a couple of telephone poles in the ground, and create a platform overhanging them about 8-10' up, gaining access with either a ladder or one of those pull down attic stairs. The bears can't climb up because of the overhang, and the bees like being up higher anyway...

    I don't actually eat much straight honey - I'm on a low carb lifestyle, so it just doesn't fit - however I'm a serious mead maker, with typically 60-80 gallons in various stages of fermentation at any given time... Good mead is very hard to come by commercially - most is over-sweet, and tends to be poorly made... I can make anything from very dry to desert sweet, with an almost infinite array of flavors (I actually don't make much "simple" mead) and so forth - from plain simple mead (Honey, water and yeast) to a variety of fruit meads including apple, raspberry/blackberry, sweet cherry, grape, etc. to herbal blends, and my "Firewater blend" Habenero pepper and Ginger mead that will really knock you over...

    (Mead making is actually what got me into keeping bees - I started brewing and my honey supplier convinced me that I would be better off growing my own...)

    Gooserider
  18. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    889
    bald faced hornets :ahhh: the nastiest mothers I have ever run in to. They're the ones that make those big grey ball nests you see hanging from trees. this time of year the yellow jackets are everywhere.
  19. KevinM

    KevinM New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Last summer I saw what claimed to be the world's largest glass beehive in Fort St. John, British Columbia. It was a large rectangle about four feet tall, three feet wide and 10 inches thick. The large faces were glass and the sides were metal with hinges to open it. It had three colonies inside with separate tubes to outside. They admitted the hive was a bit warm in the winter since it was inside but being able to see bees inside was neat, they also had honey on tap! If you ever find yourself on the Alaska highway a fun place to stop if a bit hard to find (I missed it twice).

    Kevin.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I agree, observation hives are cool! They tend to be a bit hard on the bees - there really isn't enough room in one for a healthy colony that lasts very long, and they take a good bit of maintainance (the bees don't like the light, so they tend to goop over the glass)

    The Boston Museum of Science used to have one, I don't know if it still does, but it never seemed to be working right when I saw it.

    The best one I've ever seen was at the Monfiore (sp?) museum about half way up the east side of VT - very nice place with lots of really well designed exhibits that worked well, and were fun to interact with... The science tended to be pitched at an elementary school level, but it was well done and covered quite a bit of material with different level explanations...

    The observation hive was probably about 3 feet on a side, one layer of comb thick, and had a nice healthy population when I saw it, with all stages of brood and nectar processing present - If I'd seen that sort of presence in one of my hives I'd have been really happy. While it was fun to look at, I had seen most of what was in the hive without the glass, except for one thing that a beekeeper normally never sees because he gets everyone upset when he goes into a hive... They had several bees in the hive that were actually doing the "waggle dance" that is used to communicate to other bees where the nectar sources are... It is something all the bee books talk about, but that I'd never seen live... It was incredibly neat to see that the bees really did do the dance, and in just the way the book described.

    The other thing that was cool about it is that they had the hive set up on the second floor, with the entrance through a pipe in the wall, right above an outside area that was a combination picnic and fluid mechanics experiment area - you could watch the exit from many different areas and see some of the flight patterns - but the people on the ground were mostly oblivious to the air traffic passing overhead.

    Nice museum if you are in the area, well worth the admission.

    Gooserider
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page