Wasps and Bees Pest Control
Colonial wasps such as the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and German Wasp (Vespula germanica), build a characteristic spherical, pale brown ‘paper’ nest, often in the eves of a building or the branches of a dense bush. After hibernating over winter, the fertilized queen wasp starts her nest-building in spring, and lays between 10 and 20 eggs. Once through the larval stage the new workers that emerge continue with enlarging the nest and feeding new wasp larvae. Wasp workers prefer to feed on high-energy materials such as flower nectar and fruit. The size of the nest will increase through the summer as more wasps are added to the colony. Wasps nests reach their peak size in autumn and can be as large as a beach ball containing 3,000 to 5,000 individuals. In New Zealand, conditions can be such that colonies do not die back during winter, allowing worker wasps to survive with the queen. In this case the nests can grow over several seasons and become much larger.
Wasps have a painful sting, to which some individuals are more susceptible than others; on rare occasions a sting can cause anaphylactic shock. A sting on the throat or mouth can be extremely dangerous if the swelling blocks airways. On such occasions please seek immediate medical advice.
Bees are split into Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), Solitary Bees and Bumble Bees. The Solitary Bees do not form colonies, but may be found nesting in some numbers at a good nest site. They are not aggressive and posses a weak sting that rarely penetrates human skin. The Bumble Bee species are generally harmless, only using their sting when heavily provoked and are found in smaller colonies than the honeybee. Honeybees can form colonies of tens of thousands. The honeybee is not normally a pest, producing the honey for our morning toast and pollinating our crops and flowers. These bees are usually cared for by beekeepers. However, wild colonies, or swarms that leave a hive to start a new colony can cause considerable consternation to those whose building they may choose as temporary accommodation or new home. Honeybees have a painful sting to which some people are more susceptible than others. The bee sting is barbed and will stick in human skin when the bee flies away or is brushed off. The sting will continue to pump poison and should be scraped out with a fingernail and not pinched out. The sting also releases a pheromone (smell) that attracts other bees to the sight and induces them to sting also. It is therefore good advice to retreat from a colony of bees if stung once.
Solitary Wasps and Bees
There are many other species of wasps and bees, which live in small colonies or as solitary individuals. Some of these, particularly the Ichneumonid Wasps and Wood Wasps, can appear dangerous due to their, often, very large ovipositor (egg laying tail spike) being mistaken for a sting. These ovipositors are used to inject eggs into wood or the larvae of other insects and are not dangerous.
Important! Wasps or bees should not be tackled without professional help or without a sound knowledge of the risks. A local beekeeper might be able to help and would, in times past, have been glad of finding a swarm of honeybees to increase his production. However, with the recent spread of the Varroa mite from the North Island to Nelson in the South Island, a pest of bees, keepers may not want to risk infecting their own colonies and will be reluctant to deal with a swarm for free. Target Pest will collect or destroy bee swarms safely and efficiently.