Living With Bees and Wasps

Living With Bees and Wasps

Often, wasps are the stinging culprits and bees get blamed. While bees are better at it, wasps are pollinators too.

If an insect has stung you, and at any time, you feel it is becoming difficult to breathe, call an ambulance or go directly to the emergency room.

Most of the time, your reaction will be minimal or absent (especially if you have never been stung by that type of insect before). Often times it will hurt immediately for a very short period and may begin to swell or swelling may develop later that day or the next.

If you have been stung on a finger on which you wear a ring, take the ring off before swelling develops.

Stings can bring down you blood pressure, do not drive a vehicle or otherwise exert yourself if possible. Eat something, especially something sweet and drink some water. Be conscious of your surroundings and assess whether you feel faint.

Look into the bee, wasp, ant allergy test if you suspect your child has shown signs of an allergy, and then always carry the epi-pen if they do.

If you feel you are having an anaphylactic reaction, use your epi-pen or ask the manager of the space if they have one.

After using an epi-pen go directly to an emergency room for further essential treatment.

If you give a child antihistamine for a sting, be sure to continue to monitor for breathing issues, which might require epinephrine.

Bee Stings

Remove the stinger with your nail to prevent further venom being released. Wash the area and put ice on it to reduce the swelling. Take an anti-inflammatory if you have had a bee sting before and worry about the area becoming swollen. Take an antihistamine if you have had a sting in the past that brought on allergic symptoms you want to avoid.

Any clothing the stinger may have touched should be washed, as this could have been marked with the alarm pheromone and cause future stings if there is more than one bee present. This is highly unlikely unless you have opened a Honey Bee hive or are standing in front of the entrance to one.

Wasp Stings

The stinger will not be an issue, just put ice on it to reduce the swelling and take an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory if you have had a sting in the past that brought on allergic symptoms you want to avoid.

Bees and Wasps live in our Gardens

Pollinators have very important functions within habitats, as all creatures of the planet do. Learning how to live with them again may be just the thing to save us both.

Most of our bees live in ground nests along with many wasps. Some bees live in cavities in buildings and plants and some wasps make hives in trees and on structures.

If you follow their behaviour at a few times during the day you will learn a lot about them.

If you see bee habitation, repurpose the areas or alter the landscape (think like a bee!) only after the bees have gone to bed (watch for them returning sometime before twilight). They can dig their way out but won’t find a hole you have covered up.

Water and mulch the areas you don’t want ground nesters living in (like high traffic areas around doors and stairs).

Find some areas that you don’t mind them inhabiting and leave those spaces alone, don’t mulch or water them and don’t create paths in front of them.

Find the safest way of dealing with the situation for you and the pollinator by answering these questions:

Who

Is it a bee or a wasp?
Identify distinctive shapes, colours, sounds, markings and behaviours.

What

What flowers/plants do they tend to pollinate, what other duties do they have in the ecosystem (many wasps feed on ‘pest’ species).

What are they looking for to eat at this time the year.

What is it about their behaviour that is bothering you.

When

What times of the season are they more defensive.

When are they looking for a home vs. feeding.

What is their lifespan, how long will they occupy a nest,

When is it best to try to remove a nest or deter them from making one.

Where

Where do they live, what are their habits

Where can we expect to see them

What do we bring into the garden to attract them to us? (Pop and juice, fallen fruit, garbage)

How

Signs and signals they might give before stinging us, places we can be and expect to get stung, or actions we do to cause a sting (waving arms quickly, swatting)

How can you change the way you use the space to reduce conflict.

Why
Based on the information given, students can then answer why.

Why do bees and wasps sting? (Answer: As a defense mechanism)

When Bees or Wasps are Bugging You

Share the importance of being calm and still when one comes close.

Make the wasp dizzy, spread your fingers wide, and rotate your hands (like you are turning a large doorknob), or twirl away from the area, leaving them confused and unable to follow you.

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when in the garden for long hours and If bees or wasps are hanging around you, consider tying up long hair to prevent them from getting tangled.

Wasps are attracted to our food

Keep food or sugary drinks covered; remove snacks or fallen fruit (keep area clean of garbage and animal feces).

Burn incense like sage smudge (or use a beekeeper’s smoker with pine needles) to distract and confuse them (while barbequing, especially in the fall when wasps are more urgently packing away food stores and want meat, they are carnivorous, bees are vegans).

Wasps Nests

Place a brown paper bag in the garden to deter wasps from setting up a hive close by in a tree or on a building.

If small enough to cut off, try to re-site a wasp hive in a less busy area. Use a bee suit, gloves and boots.

If you can’t wait for the end of their nesting season in the Fall, cover the nest opening (watch where they come and go from and see if there are obvious holes) with soil and a large pot, then mulch around the pot. Do this at night when they have gone to bed.

If there are mice in the area they are likely borrowing a burrow. If you don’t remove it, in the Fall they will abandon it and not use it again the next year, nor will other wasps inhabit the area next year.