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General Information


Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets, and Hornets are also known as BEES throughout the eastern states. While there seems to be an increase in the number of people who suffer allergic reactions to a BEE sting, these insects also have a good side to them.
These BEES serve our interests because they feed primarily on flies and caterpillars, plus they provide an added service of pollination.
They belong to the insect family Vespidae and live in colonies with a caste system (a division of labor and overlapping generations). The queen builds her nest by chewing wood or plant fibers (cellulose) mixed with water and then shapes them with her mouthparts. After creating half a dozen cells she begins laying female eggs at the bottom of each cell. The cycle continues as they enlarge the nest and feed the larvae while the queen lays the eggs. The workers gather flower nectar for the adult BEES as well as insects to feed the larvae.

Yellow and black striped insect on flowers

Habitat and Foraging Habits

BEES can nest in walls, rafters, under eaves, in trees, bushes, and even in the ground. If there is a hole they can get in, they will find it sooner or later.
The colony will thrive all summer as long as they have food, water, and shelter. Towards fall the males will hatch and the males and females will mate with those of other colonies. The fertilized females will find a hiding place to overwinter so that they can begin again in spring. The males die during the winter. Old nests may or may not be used again the following year, it is all up to the queen.



Controls, Prevention and Habitat Alteration


  • Three key requirements for any living thing are food, water, and shelter. Reducing the availability of one key requirement can greatly reduce their numbers.

  • Don't hang hummingbird feeders near doors that you want to use. BEES will visit these feeders for the nectar and the insects that are drawn to the feeders.

  • Clean up fallen fruit on a regular basis. Rotting fruit draws other insects and becomes an "all-you-can-eat buffet" for the BEES.

  • Reduce fly populations. Feed your pet only what you know they will clean up in a reasonable amount of time. Clean your pet's bathroom area at least once a week during the summer months.

  • Clean garbage cans on a regular basis and make sure they have tight-fitting lids.

  • Caulk holes and other entry places in siding, around windows, doors, wiring, etc to prevent infestations in wall and ceiling voids.

  • Check soffits to make sure they are tight-fitting and in place. Re-adjust, repair, or replace as needed.

  • Screen ventilation openings.

  • Clean up piles of rubble as these make great places for BEES to nest in.

  • Fill in holes made by mice, gophers, and moles. BEES will use these ready-made cavities as nesting sites in your yard!

  • Rake leaves away from your home, fertilized females may overwinter in the debris.

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