- BUMBLEBEES ARE GENERALLY BENEFICIAL
- BUMBLE BEE BIOLOGY
- BUMBLE BEE PROBLEMS
- HOW TO FIND A BUMBLE BEE NEST
- BUMBLE BEE TREATMENTS FOR THE YARD AND GARDEN
- CONTACT US
Bumblebees are yellow and black, quite “hairy” and commonly seen throughout the spring and summer months. Most people are afraid of bumblebees since they sting. But if you leave them alone, they’ll generally leave you alone too.
That being said, when bumblebees nest in the yard where children and pets are active, conflict is sure to arise eventually leading to someone getting stung. This article will detail all you need to know about bumblebees so if you have unwanted activity or nests on your property, you’ll learn how to manage the issue and get rid of the threat.
BUMBLEBEES ARE GENERALLY BENEFICIAL ^
Bumblebees are the most popular picture young children will draw when asked to create a picture of a bee. Although everyone likes honey bees, bumblebees are more recognized and accepted.
Bumblebees are pretty, their strength is legendary and the sight of them foraging for pollen on flowers is synonymous with spring and summer. So popular are bumblebees that we make our own BUMBLE BEE HOUSES so people can provide housing for them to keep them active in their garden. Our house is 13″ long, 6″ wide and 6″ deep. Pictured to the right is our house with the top off so you can see inside the living chamber.
Pictured below is our house with the top secured and ready to be set afield. Keep these in well protected areas around decks or under sheds if you want to keep bumblebees around but not have them nesting in your gardens.
BUMBLE BEE BIOLOGY ^
Bumblebees are those hairy yellow and black bees generally seen flying in and around flowers. Bumblebees are a true wonder of nature. How they are able to fly has always been a mystery to engineers that have long maintained the design and structure of bumblebees is defying the laws of physics every time they take to the air. Bumblebees are naturally heavy and sometimes loaded with pollen to such a degree that flying can be difficult. But every year they do it better than any other flying insect and this accomplishment is what makes them so unique.
Bumblebees are one of many flying insects that contribute to the pollination of plants and flowers. When people think of pollinators, they typically think of honey bees. But bumblebees along with a wide range of wasps, beetles and even ants all serve as pollinators too.
WHEN ARE BUMBLE BEES ACTIVE? ^
Bumblebees are most active in the morning and mid day. Queens will emerge in early spring as outside temps warm. These fertile females are usually eager to lay eggs so they’ll begin straight away looking for a nest sight. In fact queens have been ready for this moment since the following year.
If she chooses the right sight, her eggs will prosper. Within two months, the nest will be an active population of 75-150 bees or more. All members of the nest will be actively contributing to their community. Some seek food, some tend to offspring and others will guard and fix the nest.
Bumblebee adults will be the traditional yellow and black, about 1/2 to 3/4’s of an inch long and seemingly “hairy”. We often get asked how to tell a bumble bee from a CARPENTER BEE and the general difference is that carpenter bees will be larger. That being said, the easiest way to tell the two apart is to look at the abdomen. Carpenter bees have shiny, metallic looking abdomens and bumble bees are hairy from the tip of their nose to the end of the stinger.
BUMBLE BEE PROBLEMS ^
Bumblebees can become a threat because they sting. Bumblebee stingers will deliver a potent poison which is sure to irritate most people. In some cases, people can develop severe allergic reactions including swelling, cramping, respiratory congestion, nausea and temporary blindness.
In general, it is best to watch but not irritate foraging bees you see in the yard. Remember, bumblebees don’t want to fight; they are merely gathering food and going about their day to day responsibilities when you see them. Avoiding direct contact is usually easy, but sometimes conflict is inevitable.
Problems arise when bumblebees nests in close proximity to where we like to picnic, work or play. When nests are around active people, someone is sure to get stung.
As mentioned above, working bumblebees will be indifferent to you. They have a job to do and don’t have time to waste chasing every person or animal that gets close. However, that same bee will be completely different if you come close to it’s nest.
Bumblebees like to nest under flat objects and they will aggressively protect their community. They like to feel something on top and underneath them as they nest. This leads them to locations under boxes, under low profile decks, under rocks, under wood chips or pine straw, between wood logs of a wood pile or landscape timbers, under a patio slab, under a tarp or even under thick sod like Zoysia.
HOW TO FIND A BUMBLE BEE NEST ^
The most common way people find a nest is by accident. The usual way is when yard work is being done involving massive cleanup. During this process, something gets moved and a nest is uncovered leading to a flurry of stings.
Although nests are abandoned every year, it is common for a new nest to start close if not exactly in the same location as a nest the preceding year. Bumblebees are opportunistic and seem wired like gps to find these same locations year after year.
Long story short, if you give them the chance to have a great nest sight in your yard, they will take it. To prevent this pattern from repeating, remove as many likely nest locations you can find. But if you already have a nest, you will have to do some pest control to get your property back from these territorial bees.
HOW TO BEHAVE AROUND A BUMBLEBEE NEST ^
Once an active nest is identified, be sure to keep children and pets away from the area. Bumblebees may die after stinging, but they are not afraid of this consequence. And though passive when away foraging for food, bumblebees are a different “animal” when you get close to their private “nest” space. If you do it by accident, they don’t care. Hopefully you’ll realize what is happening before you get stung. In general, they are easy to see once 5-10 get active so you can’t miss them like a swarm of yellow jackets which move faster and are 1/3 as big.
BUMBLE BEE TREATMENTS FOR THE YARD AND GARDEN
Once a bumblebee nest is discovered in the yard, there are three ways to treat. The best product to use will depend largely on where they’re nestled. Most people want to spray them with a “wasp freeze” type aerosol but these formulations are not well suited for most any bumblebee nest. The best options are generally either a dust or a special concentrate we carry which is “non repellent”. Details on all three are explained below.
AEROSOL BEE FREEZE SPRAY ^
As stated above, most people naturally grab a can of wasp freeze and hope if they saturate the ground where the bumblebees are nesting, they can kill off the entire next in a few seconds. This rarely works.
Yes, most wasp freezes will kill bees you hit directly with the spray. But remember, they’re nesting under something. And if this “something” is a tarp, wood, plastic or something non-porous, no aerosol will kill the whole nest.
Now if they’re under grass clippings or piled up thatch, you might stand a chance with our penetrating BEE FREEZE. This formulation is very different from most in that it features a solvent system which allows it to soak through porous grass and thatch.
So yeah, it will kill active adults when you spray. But like any other wasp freeze, it cannot kill eggs or developing pupae. So even though you might be able to stop all the active adults, there is a good chance the nest will “rebound” in a few weeks following your treatment. That’s because any aerosol will dissipate and evaporate leaving no residual. And without a residual in place, hatching eggs and pupae will have free roam to grow and eventually bring the nest back.
So why would you even use this formulation? Well, it can be handy in a pinch. Like if you’re working in a yard and are unsure where the nest is but keep encountering a few rogue bees. Or if you get lucky and discover a nest that’s well contained and easy to access. No doubt directly spraying it with this formulation could solve the problem for good. But in general, you’ll be much better served using either the dust or the liquid listed below.
DUST NESTS FOR LONG LASTING CONTROL ^
For most bumblebee nests, dusting will usually be the most direct and quick fix. So if you know where a nest is located, using DELTAMETHRIN DUST will both kill all stages active and provide long lasting residual so the nest cannot rebound. Deltamethrin dust is moisture tolerant so once applied under a shed, rock or log, it will lay on the dirt for many months. This way when eggs hatch, they too will die.
Deltamethrin dust is similar to baby or talc powder in consistency so its light enough to be “blown” out 5-10 feet yet heavy enough to stay where you direct the flow.
Deltamathrin dust goes a long way too. One pound will cover up to 500 sq/ft of turf so you will have plenty to use on several nests is you have a bad problem in the yard.
Plan on dusting the nest in the evening, right at dark, when all the bees will be back in their nest. Direct the dust into their nest opening by shooting 5-10 heavy squirts of dust and then leave the area. By the next morning, the nest will be shut down with the only visible trace being a few dead bees. In most cases, they never get a chance to even leave the nest once they get covered in the dust.
To apply the dust, you’ll need a good HAND DUSTER. Our model comes with a 6″ extension standard but is also available with a 12″ extension.
Just remove the cap, fill it 1/2 to 2/3’rds of the way up, seal it back up and go afield armed and ready to take out any bumblebee nest.
The whole process of dusting the nest should only take 10-15 seconds. If done properly, the dust will float back to key egg chambers, nurse stations and even the queens den. And it will kill all of them quickly. In fact most will die before they can ever emerge.
BEST BUMBLE BEE SPRAY ^
The last way to treat a bumblebee nest is when you’re not quite sure where the nest is located. In other words, you know the general area and you even see bees coming and going. But you’ve not been able to locate their entry/exit hole so dusting wouldn’t be productive.
For these situations, your best option is to use our unique “non repellent” spray. This method is ideal for when the nest is well hidden or for when the exact location is hard to reach. For this scenario, your best option is to saturate the area with OPTIGARD.
Optigard doesn’t kill quickly. In fact it will take a good 3-4 days for it to work. But this is very much by design.
Mix 1/2 oz to a gallon of water and then spray the mixture over the entire area you suspect they’re nesting. You don’t have to be exact. But plan on spraying a full gallon of mixed product for every 100 sq/ft (10 ft by 10 ft).
Do the treatment in the evening, just before dusk, and renew it three nights in a row. By the 3rd to 4th night, you will notice most if not all bees are gone.
And since Optigard provides a residual that will last 2-3 months, hatching eggs and pupae will succumb to the treatment too so the nest has no chance to “come back”.
Optigard is odorless and safe enough to spray on trees, bushes, flowers and the ground around all plants.
To make the treatment, you’ll need a good PUMP SPRAYER. And you’ll want to make sure you get it all applied. The good news is Optigard won’t bother the bees. Even as you spray them. To them, its just like water so they’ll think nothing odd is happening but maybe a little rain shower.
Bumblebees are no doubt a “good” bee and one of the many wonders of nature. However, their nests can make our yards a scary place for children and adults alike.
Use Deltamethrin Dust to treat nests when you are certain of their location. When the exact location is unclear, go with Optigard instead and “broadcast” it over a large area. Either option will control an active nest and help prevent people from accidentally getting stung.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
Email questions here: https://bugspray.com/about-us/contact-us
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