Bees, wasps, and hornets take wing across Georgia

The warmer temperatures are bringing out the bees! Here is some information on some common flying insects we are seeing. This information is taken from the publication Management of Insect Pests in and Around the Home by Daniel R. Suiter, Brian T. Forschler, Lisa M. Ames and E. Richard Hoebeke.

Bumble bees (Apidae: Bombus spp.):

Large, black bees (3/4 inch) with bright yellow hairs on the thorax and/or abdomen. Bees from the same colony are different sizes.

Habits:

Bumble bees are common inhabitants of gardens, where they are most commonly found visiting and pollinating flowers. Highly beneficial. Bumble bees are social, and live in a colony with nest mates. Like yellow jackets, colonies nest in the ground. When their nest is threatened, bumble bees can be aggressive and may sting.

Interventions:

If the nest is not a threat to the health and welfare of humans, leave it alone as bumble bees are excellent pollinators. If the nest must be eliminated, find the entrance and treat with a labeled insecticide formulated as an insecticidal dust or one of the various wasp and hornet aerosol sprays that shoot their contents up to 20 feet. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging andBiting Pests, at caes.uga.edu/publications.

Might be Confused With:

Carpenter bees, digger bees, yellow jackets.

Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia
Bumble bee

Large Carpenter bees (Apidae: Xylocopa virginica):

Large, black bees (3/4 inch). Appearance similar to bumble bees but with naked, hairless abdomen. Abdomen black to blackish blue.

Habits:

In Georgia, March-May this bee can be found chewing dime sized holes in wood boards, logs, etc. It does not eat wood, but chews galleries to create a nest site where eggs are laid. Some bees (males) appear aggressive. Cedar boards are particularly susceptible to extensive damage by carpenter bees.

Interventions:

Apply an appropriately labeled dust, liquid spray, or jet aerosol directly into carpenter bee holes while bees are active. Begin treatment when bees are first found, and re-treat as needed. In late Summer, when all bees have left their nest sites, fill holes with wood filler, sand, and paint (or apply a quality wood finish).

Might Be Confused With:

Bumble bees.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Digger bees (Apidae: Anthophora spp.):

One common species is a gray-colored bee closely resembling the honey bee, 1/2 to 5/8 inch. Females slightly larger than males.

Habits:

In the Spring (March and April), this otherwise solitary bee aggregates, often in large numbers, for the purpose of mating and reproduction. Typical aggregation/nest sites are barren, grassless ground. When numerous, dozens to hundreds (even thousands) of bees can be seen flying in an erratic fashion approximately one foot above the ground. Bees are beneficial pollinators, and not aggressive even at their nest site.

Interventions:

Digger bees are harmless, and killing them is not recommended. To discourage future nest-site aggregations, barren areas should be covered with mulch or new turfgrass should be planted. Irrigating the area on successive days may cause bees to abandon the location. If desired, apply a spot treatment to aggregation sites with an appropriately labeled residual spray.

Might Be Confused With:

Honey bees.

Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Honey bees (including Africanized honey bee) (Apidae: Apis mellifera):

Caramel-colored, 1/2 to 5/8 inch, hairy bee sometimes with large accumulations of yellow pollen on their hind legs. Commonly found in gardens visiting flowers while collecting nectar. Africanized honey bees can be differentiated from non-Africanized honey bees only by a professional entomologist.

Habits:

Honey bees are one of the best known, most recognized and beneficial of all insects. They pollinate billions of dollars worth of crops each year. The Africanized honey bee, a more aggressive and potentially dangerous honey bee, was found in Georgia in 2010.

Interventions:

The most common problem associated with honey bees is that they sometimes nest inside walls of structures. Do not kill these nests, but call a professional beekeeper or pest management specialist because the bees and honeycomb must be completely removed. Find a beekeeper to remove the bees, then hire someone to remove the honeycomb and replace the wall. All honey bee material and honeycomb residue must be completely removed or secondary pest problems may arise. A carpenter’s skills are often needed. For more detailed information see University of Georgia Extension circulars #824, Honey Bee Swarms and Bees in Walls, and #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at caes.uga.edu/publications.

Might Be Confused With:

yellow jackets, digger bees.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Hornets (Vespidae: Vespa spp.):

The European hornet, Vespa crabro, was accidentally introduced into North America about the middle of the 19th century. It is a large eusocial wasp with the wings reddish orange and the petiolate abdomen brown and yellow striped. There are no native hornets in the U.S.

Habits:

European hornets build large, above-ground nests, usually in trees. Similar to yellow jackets and paper wasps, European hornets build a new nest each year. Each Fall all hornets die, with the exception of several queens, which overwinter. The following Spring these overwintered, mated queens initiate the construction of a new nest. European hornets are attracted to lights at night. They are not attracted to human foods and food wastes, as are yellow jackets, but they can damage fruits, such as apples, while the fruit is still on the tree.

Interventions:

If European hornets are found around the house at night, because these wasps will forage after dark and are attracted to lights, examine and change the lighting regime. Do not attempt to remove or treat a nest; call a pest management professional to remove nests near areas of human habitation or activity. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at caes.uga.edu/publications.

Might Be Confused With:

Cicada killers, yellow jackets.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Mud Daubers (Sphecidae and Crabronidae: many species):

Long, slender, solitary wasps 1 to 1.5 inches, with long, slender waists. Commonly glossy black or blue, some species with yellow highlights.

Habits:

Builds series of four- to six-inch long vertical mud tubes on walls in areas protected from rain and adverse weather. Commonly found under eaves, decks, etc. Each tube comprised of individual cells housing a single larva and spider prey that wasp larvae feed on.

Interventions:

Knock down dry mud nests with a broom and wash mud from wall with soap and water. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.

Might Be Confused With:

Paper wasps, potter wasps.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Paper wasps (Vespidae: Polistes spp.):

Large (1 inch), aggressive wasps when at their nest. Various species, but all build paper-like, multi-celled, inverted umbrella nests under rain- and wind-protected eaves where wasps can enter and exit easily.

Habits:

Each Fall all wasps die, with the exception of several queens, which overwinter in an inactive form in a well-protected, secluded environment such as under and in fallen logs and other ground debris. The following Spring, queens initiate and build a small paper nest where they lay eggs. Paper wasps build a new nest each year. Colonies grow and reach peak size in the Fall, at which time the cycle repeats. Like other social bees and wasps, paper wasps are aggressive when protecting their nest, and may inflict a painful sting in its defense. Adult wasps are excellent predators in vegetable gardens, and are more docile when not protecting their nest.

Interventions:

If nests are out of the way, leave wasps alone as they are highly beneficial predators. If desired, spray nest and wasps directly with an aerosol jet spray, or early in the year, before the nest contains too many adult wasps consider knocking down the nest with a long stick but be prepared – and able – to quickly flee the area as the nest is dislodged. Make certain no one in the area is allergic to wasp venom (stings). For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.

Might Be Confused With:

Mud daubers.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

Potter wasps (Vespidae, but sometimes recognized as Eumenidae: many species):

Also referred to as mason wasps. Common species dark blue or black with yellow or white highlights on abdomen and/or thorax. Solitary. Common species 3/4 to 1inch. Strongly sclerotized.

Habits:

This wasp builds characteristic, oval-shaped (1/2 to 5/8 inch diameter) nests that appear pot-like with a knob-like handle. Pots are ornate and constructed of mud, as if built by a mason.

Interventions:

Knock down ‘mud pot’ nests with a broom and wash mud from wall with soap and water.

Might Be Confused With:

Mud daubers.

 Bees, wasps and hornets take wing across Georgia

 

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