While bees are good for the garden, pollination and making honey, not everyone appreciates having them too close to home, especially if there is a hive nearby. Bees are not usually aggressive and will get on with the job of collecting pollen and nectar, unless provoked. However, some people are allergic to bee and wasp stings, which can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition, so removing any hives in their vicinity should be a priority.
All bees are hairy – bumble bees more obviously so (and they are bigger and much darker than honey bees). The hairs on their bodies and hind legs collect pollen which is then distributed to the fertile pistils of other flowers when they land on them. Bees are attracted to flowers and flourishing vegetation because this is where they collect nectar to take back to their hives to be made into honey.
It is rare for bees to swarm, a process by which they find a new nest location, but when they do it is usually caused by factors such as seasonal changes and overcrowding.
Wasps differ in appearance and behaviour from bees. In New Zealand, the most troublesome wasps are German and common wasps, which are very similar in appearance. They have bright yellow markings, with black fronts, and black dots in between black stripes on their sides. (Honey bees are a duller shade of yellow, with stripes but no dots like wasps).
Both species of wasp live in large colonies, about the size of a soccer ball. These colonies can become huge if they manage to survive over winter. German wasp nests are grey; common wasp nests are brown and neither should be approached as wasps are aggressive, especially when disturbed. They are quick to defend their nests and will sting repeatedly, unlike bees, which only sting once.
Wasps eat insects but are known scavengers who eat meat, fish and sugary substances, making them a nuisance around picnics, barbeques and rubbish bins.
How to reduce the risk of infestation
It can be dangerous to deal with bees and wasps without professional help as they have powerful stings and can attack when disturbed. Removing hives and nests is hazardous without the correct know-how and specialist equipment. They can also be located in many different places so finding them can be tricky, and correct identification of the species being dealt with is important. As many people are allergic to bee/wasp stings, it simply isn’t worth the risk of doing it yourself. Call Pure Services to deal with any bee or wasp problems on your property.
However, there are things you can do to avoid attracting bees and wasps:
Rinse out all bottles and jars before putting them in your recycling bin.