Tag Archives: yellow jackets

The Bee Zoofer

Necessity is the mother of invention.

 

The yellow zap icon indicates where the entrance to the hive is

 

And what a mother it can be.

I try to keep the compound safe for myself and others. I am watchful for hazards and remediate them as quickly as possible. I was sizing up this big arborvitae that needed some trimming when I noticed a yellow-jacket hive beneath the lower branches.

As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, (Bumbles) I dislike flying, stinging insects. Judging by the location of the nest, I could easily see myself getting stung (perhaps multiple times) while mindlessly cutting the grass. Or worse, one of my children or grandchildren suffering the same.

Yikes. No bueno.

I began with standard eradication methods – soaking the entrance hole with a couple of gallons of water-based insecticide. After a few days I could see that wasn’t having the desired effect. Not enough bees were contacting the poison and the leaf litter was sponging up the deadly liquid before it reached the core of the nest.

How could I ambush (bushwhack) the little bastards on their entrance/exit without standing there all damn day?

Enter The Bee Zoofer. (patent pending).

The Bee Zoofer  is a shop vacuum set strategically at the entrance to the bee hive. As each individual bee either exits and tries to take flight, or hovers in for a landing, it gets caught in the suction and…zzz-ZZOOOF! gets sucked into the vacuum. Neat, clean and effortless. The captured bees are bounced around violently inside the vacuum drum, which I believe kills them quickly. To be sure, however, I leave the vacuum alone for a few days before emptying it out, just to be certain.

The most difficult part of deploying the Bee Zoofer is the proper placement of the business end. You need to place the nozzle right beside the entrance hole. That can be a touchy proposition with the rapid comings and goings of an active hive. Once in place, however, you just press the ‘ON’ button and walk away. Of course, it is entertaining enough to watch, for a little while.

Initially, I left the Bee Zoofer running for about 3 hours. Activity in and around the nest certainly slowed down, but the next day it was back to pre-Zoofer levels. I then ran the Zoofer for two sessions of 2 hours each (to allow the shop vac to cool down). Again, activity slowed to nill.

My aim was to reduce the population of bees until the hive could no longer support itself and collapse. Surely any bees that were left are coming back to an empty nest. I could picture their reaction –
‘Hey…WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYBODY??’

But that wasn’t the case. Either the hive was much larger than I thought, or bee reproduction was ramped up to meet demand. So I turned on the Bee Zoofer and procured a long pole and proceeded to poke at the nest from afar. This produced the desired effect of an attack, which also put many more bees into the suction flow. (Full disclosure – I got stung once, on my arm. Aparantly one of the little bastards avoided getting sucked in and went on a large, circular hunt that ended with me. That is what you get from farking with a bee hive).

 

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Bumbles

For some damned reason that I cannot figure out, I just cannot let a bee hive alone.  Not Honey bees.  They are going through some tough times these days and I like honey, so they get a pass.  But anything else gets obliterated.

My method of choice would be fire – and a lot of it – but that is usually not practical, or safe.  If I’m in a good mood I might dose the nest with some chemical like Sevin and let well enough alone.  If I’m not in such a good mood I use a stronger chemical that kills on contact.

I also usually give bumble bees a pass for a couple of reasons.  First, they are one of the last remaining pollinators doing the necessary job of pollination without asking much more than to be left alone.

Second, I have done enough damage to the bumble population in my younger years.  Actually, the first sting that I suffered was from a bumble bee that I had mistaken for a dirt clod.  I tried to cut it in half with a spackle knife.  I might have been two or three years old at the time.  Got me on the thumb.

Then there was that time that I lit the bumble bee nest on fire in the woods far out behind Lightening Brook Park.  That was pretty stupid, I agree.  But Providence was watching out for me.  And thank God He (She, whomever) was, because my gray matter was not firing on all cylinders at that time.

Bumbles are fairly non-aggressive, as long as you are not trying to cut them in half, light them on fire en-mass or pounding 3-inch nails above their nest – like I was today.

I’m trying to complete a project.  The stairs in the backyard have some boards that need to be replaced.  I knew full well there was a bumble nest in there.  I actually pulled up a board covering a part of the nest and got away with it.  There were some tense moments, sure, but I dodged the sentinels, replaced the rotten board with a nice, new one and got the hell out of there.

At that time I did minimal nailing, mainly because I ran out of nails.  But I rectified that situation earlier today.  Armed with a hammer and plenty of 10d bright commons, I began nailing.  I got about 2 nails in when I saw a petite (as opposed to a grande) bumble squeeze out from between two boards.  I barely had time to register that I may have cut the board too narrow when it made a bee-line for my ass.

I did my usual dance;  spinning, swatting and uttering sounds that I am not proud of.  My efforts were slowed by the hammer in one hand and nails in the other.  The bumble circled me twice then darted at my face, zapping me on the left side of my nose.

Sonofabitch!  I dropped my tools and distanced myself.  A fast self eval told me that I got off light.  Further inspection in the mirror revealed no stinger imbedded.  A little Afterbite quelled most of the discomfort.  Two shots of rum got rid of the rest (Yes, two. You don’t take one aspirin at a time, do you?).  After that I cleaned up my tools and bagged the project for the day.

I usually get stung once or twice a year.  It’s all part of living out in the country.  But it got me to thinking about the pain ratio of different flying stinging insects, of which I have been stung by most.  There seems to be a quantum jump in pain as one goes down the list.  Sort of like six stages of hell.

(NOT tempting fate here, at all, just saying).

Bumble Bee
Honey Bee
Yellow Jacket
Yellow Wasp
Brown Wasp
Hornet


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