Bees, Paper Wasps And Yellow Jackets

Wasps perform a valuable service in destroying many insects that attack cultivated and ornamental plants.

However, nests near homes may prove a source of irritation.

Any attempt to remove or destroy nests by the layman should be done at night when nest activity is at a minimum. It is important to note that even though nests are relatively inactive at night, any disturbance will result in instant activity by the colony. It is necessary to work cautiously but quickly. Protective clothing is advisable.

Wasps are adept at stinging and are especially aroused if danger threatens the nest. Unlike the honeybee, which dies upon inflicting a single sting, vespine wasps may sting as often as they find a target. In fact, when a yellowjacket or hornet is injured it often releases an "alarm pheromone" which quickly results in an aggressive, defensive behavior from other members of the colony.

Although all honey bees will sting when their nest is threatened by invaders, African bees defend their nests with less provocation, in greater numbers and for longer distances than their cousins, the docile European honey bees.

No bees try to hurt people. They are simply defending their territory. If people disturb the hive or if a hive is accidentally disturbed, the bees are likely to react adversely.

RUN. Bees tend to sting the face and head, so try to cover your nose and mouth with your hands while running. Never stand still or get yourself boxed into a place outdoors where you cannot escape the attacking bees. SEEK SHELTER. Run for an enclosed building or vehicle. Bees that do get inside usually become disoriented and go to the light at the windows.

The public should be educated to recognize and avoid wild bee nests. People must hold a healthy respect for all bee colonies and swarms as potentially populated by over-defensive honey bees and, therefore, suspect. Any wild swarms found near residences or close to domestic animals (horses, cows, poultry, hogs, and dogs) must be destroyed.

Try to prevent stings by protecting yourself in a safe area (building, car, truck) as quickly as possible.

If stung,

• Scrape stingers from skin with a blunt object as soon as possible. If not done, venom will continue to be injected over time

• Wash effected area with soap and water and apply ice to relieve pain and swelling

• If allergic reaction occurs such as difficulty in breathing or hives over large areas of the body, inject adrenaline from an emergency sting kit, administer antihistamines and seek medical attention

• If many stings are received, there is risk of toxic envenomation and medical attention should be sought. The treatment for this is renal dialysis. Many physicians may not be familiar with this situation because it generally only arises due to massive defensive behavior by African Honey Bee.