Honey Bees, Carpenter Bees, Wasps, Hornets, Yellow jackets

We offer Eco-Friendly Bee and Hive removal

Are you tired of the daily battle with bees and wasp? Are your summer outings kept indoor because of bees?

 

Serving Metro Atlanta, Bremen, Carrollton, College Park, Columbus, Fayetteville, Franklin, Grantville, Greenville, Griffin, Hogansville, Jonesboro, La Grange, Lovejoy, McDonough, Newnan, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Union City, West Point, and surrounding cities. Call (678)340-3269 to schedule an appointment.

What you can expect from a Wildlife Company during a removal

  • We offer eco friendly methods that do not contain any pesticides
  • We attempt to remove all the Bees, Wasp, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets and their hive. By doing this we reduce the risk of a re-infestation of the same area.
  • If dealing with Honeybees we make every attempt to remove the Bees and save the comb which includes all the offspring and food stores. When dealing with Licensed Pesticide Companies they have a “Spray and Pray” method of poisoning the bees and praying the queen was treated. After the bees are killed the comb and honey in your walls is a perfect draw for other insects and spoiled honey has a very fowl odor. We totally remove the bees alive and remove the honey comb and reinstall this into a commercial Hive body. This allows the bees to live on in our Apiary to continue pollenating our food and flowers.
  • We employ up to date tactics in locating the hive with in your walls to minimize the damage to your home. We attempt to do only the required damage to remove the wall or ceiling covering to expose the hive and remove the bees. We treat every home we operate in with the same respect as our own. We understand the total shock and disruption felt on your part and we try to offer you a quick and total solution to your problem. We are not equipped to offer repair service to close your home and make the needed repairs, however we do operate on a regular basis with contractors and can make recommendation if ask.

We can remove your Honey Bee, Yellow Jacket, Carpenter Bee, Wasp, and Hornet problems.  Serving Atlanta, Austell, Bremen, Carrollton, College Park, Columbus, Douglasville, Ellenwood, Fayetteville, Griffin, Jonesboro, La Grange, Lithia Springs, Locust Grove, Lovejoy, McDonough, Morrow, Newnan, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Stockbridge, Thomaston, Union City and surrounding cities. Call (678)340-3269 to schedule an appointment.

 

Honey Bees

Honey Bee Removal | Wasp Removal | Yellow Jacket Removal | Hornet Removal

Honey Bee Removal

 

Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognized species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies,[ though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognized. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.

Origin, systematics and distribution

Distribution of honeybees around the world

Honey bees appear to have their center of origin in South and South East Asia (including the Philippines), as all but one (i.e. Apis mellifera), of the extant species are native to that region. Notably, living representatives of the earliest lineages to diverge (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis) have their center of origin there.

The first Apis bees appear in the fossil record at the Eocene–Oligocene (23–56 Mya) boundary, in European deposits. The origin of these prehistoric honey bees does not necessarily indicate that Europe is where the genus originated, only that it occurred there at that time. There are few known fossil deposits in South Asia, the suspected region of honey bee origin, and fewer still have been thoroughly studied.

No Apis species existed in the New World during human times before the introduction of Apis melifera by Europeans. There is only one fossil species documented from the New World, Apis nearctica, known from a single 14-million-year old specimen from Nevada.

The close relatives of modern honey bees—e.g. bumblebees and stingless bees—are also social to some degree, and social behavior seems a plesiomorphic trait that predates the origin of the genus. Among the extant members of Apis, the more basal species make single, exposed combs, while the more recently evolved species nest in cavities and have multiple combs, which has greatly facilitated their domestication.

Most species have historically been cultured or at least exploited for honey and beeswax by humans indigenous to their native ranges. Only two of these species have been truly domesticated, one (Apis mellifera) at least since the time of the building of the Egyptian pyramids, and only that species has been moved extensively beyond its native range.

Today’s honey bees constitute three clades.

Apis dorsata on Tribulus terrestris in Hyderabad, India

Genetics

Morphology of a female honey bee

The chromosome counts of female bees for the three clades are Micrapis 2N=16, Megapis 2N=16, Apis 2N=32. Drones of all species have 1N chromosome counts. The genome of Apis has been mapped.

Drones (males) are produced from unfertilized eggs and therefore represent only the DNA of the queen that laid the eggs, i.e. have only a mother. Workers and queens (both female) result from fertilized eggs and therefore have both a mother and a father. A modified form of parthenogenesis controls sex differentiation. The sex allele is polymorphic and so long as two different variants are present, a female bee results. If both sex alleles are identical, diploid drones are produced. Honeybees detect and destroy diploid drones after the eggs hatch.

Queens typically mate with multiple drones on more than one mating flight. Once mated, they lay eggs and fertilize them as needed from sperm stored in the spermatheca. Since the number of sex alleles is limited—about 18 are known in Apis—there is a high probability that a queen will mate with one or more drones having sex alleles identical with one of the sex alleles in the queen. It is therefore typical for a queen to produce a percentage of diploid drone eggs.

Micrapis

Apis florea and Apis andreniformis are small honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia. They make very small, exposed nests in trees and shrubs. Their stings are often incapable of penetrating human skin, so the hive and swarms can be handled with minimal protection. They occur largely sympatrically though they are very distinct evolutionarily and are probably the result of allopatric speciation, their distribution later converging. Given that A. florea is more widely distributed and A. andreniformis is considerably more aggressive, honey is—if at all—usually harvested from the former only. They are the most ancient extant lineage of honey bees, maybe diverging in the Bartonian (some 40 million years ago or slightly later) from the other lineages, but among themselves do not seem to have diverged a long time before the Neogene.

Megapis

There is one recognized species in the subgenus Megapis. It usually builds single or a few exposed combs on high tree limbs, on cliffs, and sometimes on buildings. They can be very fierce. Periodically robbed of their honey by human “honey hunters”, colonies are easily capable of stinging a human being to death if provoked.

Apis dorsata on comb

  • Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is native and widespread across most of South and Southeast Asia.
  • Apis dorsata binghami, the Indonesian honey bee, is classified as the Indonesian subspecies of the giant honey bee or a distinct species; in the latter case, A. d. breviligula and/or other lineages would probably also have to be considered species.
  • Apis dorsata laboriosa, the Himalayan honey bee, was initially described as a distinct species. Later, it was included in A. dorsata as a subspecies based on the biological species concept, though authors applying a genetic species concept have suggested it should be considered a species. Essentially restricted to the Himalayas, it differs little from the giant honey bee in appearance, but has extensive behavioral adaptations that enable it to nest in the open at high altitudes despite low ambient temperatures. It is the largest living honey bee.

“Apis”

Eastern species

Eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) from Hong Kong

These are three or four species. The reddish Koschevnikov’s bee (Apis koschevnikovi) from Borneo is well distinct; it probably derives from the first colonization of the island by cave-nesting honey bees. Apis cerana, the Eastern honey bee proper, is the traditional honey bee of southern and eastern Asia, kept in hives in a similar fashion to Apis mellifera, though on a much smaller and regionalised scale. It has not been possible yet to resolve its relationship to the Bornean Apis cerana nuluensis and Apis nigrocincta from the Philippines to satisfaction; the most recent hypothesis is that these are indeed distinct species but that A. cerana is still paraphyletic, consisting of several good species.

European/Western/Common honey bee
Apis mellifera, the most commonly domesticated species, was the third insect to have its genome mapped. It seems to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and eastwards into Asia to the Tien Shan range. It is variously called the European, Western or Common honey bee in different parts of the world. There are many subspecies that have adapted to the local geographic and climatic environments, and in addition, hybrid strains such as the Buckfast bee have been bred. Behavior, color and anatomy can be quite different from one subspecies or even strain to another.

The European honey bee originated from eastern Africa. This bee is pictured in Tanzania.

Regarding phylogeny, this is the most enigmatic honey bee species. It seems to have diverged from its Eastern relatives only during the Late Miocene. This would fit the hypothesis that the ancestral stock of cave-nesting honey bees was separated into the Western group of E Africa and the Eastern group of tropical Asia by desertification in the Middle East and adjacent regions, which caused declines of foodplants and trees that provided nest sites, eventually causing gene flow to cease. The diversity of subspecies is probably the product of a largely Early Pleistocene radiation aided by climate and habitat changes during the last ice age. That the Western honey bee has been intensively managed by humans for many millennia – including hybridization and introductions – has apparently increased the speed of its evolution and confounded the DNA sequence data to a point where little of substance can be said about the exact relationships of many A. mellifera subspecies.[4]

Apis mellifera are not native to the Americas and therefore were not present upon the arrival of the European explorers and colonists. There were, however, other native bee species kept and traded by indigenous peoples.[6] In 1622, European colonists brought the dark bee (A. m. mellifera) to the Americas, followed later by Italian bees (A. m. ligustica) and others. Many of the crops that depend on honey bees for pollination have also been imported since colonial times. Escaped swarms (known as “wild” bees, but actually feral) spread rapidly as far as the Great Plains, usually preceding the colonists. Honey bees did not naturally cross the Rocky Mountains; they were transported by the Mormon pioneers[7] to Utah in the late 1840s, and by ship to California in the early 1850s.

Africanized bee

An Africanized bee extracts nectar from a flower as pollen grains stick to its body in Tanzania

Africanized bees (known colloquially as “killer bees”) are hybrids between European stock and one of the African subspecies A. m. scutellata; they are often more aggressive than and do not create as much of a surplus as European bees, but are more resistant to disease and are better foragers.[citation needed] Originating by accident in Brazil, they have spread to North America and constitute a pest in some regions. However, these strains do not overwinter well, and so are not often found in the colder, more northern parts of North America. On the other hand, the original breeding experiment for which the African bees were brought to Brazil in the first place has continued (though not as intended). Novel hybrid strains of domestic and re-domesticated Africanized bees combine high resilience to tropical conditions and good yields. They are popular among beekeepers in Brazil.

Beekeeping

Two species of honey bee, A. mellifera and A. cerana indica, are often maintained, fed, and transported by beekeepers. Modern hives also enable beekeepers to transport bees, moving from field to field as the crop needs pollinating and allowing the beekeeper to charge for the pollination services they provide, revising the historical role of the self-employed beekeeper, and favoring large-scale commercial operations.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD)

Frame removed from Langstroth hive

Beekeepers in Western countries have been reporting slow declines of stocks for many years, apparently due to impaired protein production, changes in agricultural practice, or unpredictable weather. In early 2007, abnormally high die-offs (30–70% of hives) of European honey bee colonies occurred in North America; such a decline seems unprecedented in recent history. This has been dubbed “Colony collapse disorder” (CCD); it is unclear whether this is simply an accelerated phase of the general decline due to stochastically more adverse conditions in 2006, or a novel phenomenon. Research has so far failed to determine what causes it, but the weight of evidence is tentatively leaning towards CCD being a syndrome rather than a disease as it seems to be caused by a combination of various contributing factors rather than a single pathogen or poison.

Life cycle

A queen bee: a coloured dot, in this case yellow, is added to assist the beekeeper in identifying the queen.

Honey bee eggs shown in cut open wax cells

Drone pupae

Emergence of a black bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)

Eggs and larvae

As in a few other types of eusocial bees, a colony generally contains one queen bee, a fertile female; seasonally up to a few thousand drone bees or fertile males; and a large seasonally variable population of sterile female worker bees. Details vary among the different species of honey bees, but common features include:

1. Eggs are laid singly in a cell in a wax honeycomb, produced and shaped by the worker bees. Using her spermatheca, the queen actually can choose to fertilize the egg she is laying, usually depending on what cell she is laying in. Drones develop from unfertilised eggs and are haploid, while females (queens and worker bees) develop from fertilised eggs and are diploid. Larvae are initially fed with royal jelly produced by worker bees, later switching to honey and pollen. The exception is a larva fed solely on royal jelly, which will develop into a queen bee. The larva undergoes several moltings before spinning a cocoon within the cell, and pupating.

2. Young worker bees clean the hive and feed the larvae. When their royal jelly producing glands begin to atrophy, they begin building comb cells. They progress to other within-colony tasks as they become older, such as receiving nectar and pollen from foragers, and guarding the hive. Later still, a worker takes her first orientation flights and finally leaves the hive and typically spends the remainder of her life as a forager.

3. Worker bees cooperate to find food and use a pattern of “dancing” (known as the bee dance or waggle dance) to communicate information regarding resources with each other; this dance varies from species to species, but all living species of Apis exhibit some form of the behavior. If the resources are very close to the hive, they may also exhibit a less specific dance commonly known as the “Round Dance”.

4. Honey bees also perform tremble dances, which recruit receiver bees to collect nectar from returning foragers.

5. Virgin queens go on mating flights away from their home colony, and mate with multiple drones before returning. The drones die in the act of mating.

6. Colonies are established not by solitary queens, as in most bees, but by groups known as “swarms”, which consist of a mated queen and a large contingent of worker bees. This group moves en masse to a nest site that has been scouted by worker bees beforehand. Once they arrive, they immediately construct a new wax comb and begin to raise new worker brood. This type of nest founding is not seen in any other living bee genus, though there are several groups of Vespid wasps that also found new nests via swarming (sometimes including multiple queens). Also, stingless bees will start new nests with large numbers of worker bees, but the nest is constructed before a queen is escorted to the site, and this worker force is not a true “swarm”.

Winter survival

In cold climates honey bees stop flying when the temperature drops below about 10 °C (50 °F) and crowd into the central area of the hive to form a “winter cluster”. The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering in order to keep the center between 27 °C (81 °F) at the start of winter (during the broodless period) and 34 °C (93 °F) once the queen resumes laying. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold. The outside edges of the cluster stay at about 8–9 °C (46–48 °F). The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes. During winter, they consume their stored honey to produce body heat. The amount of honey consumed during the winter is a function of winter length and severity but ranges in temperate climates from 15 to 50 kg (30 to 100 pounds).[9]

Foragers coming in loaded with pollen on the hive landing board

Pollination

Species of Apis are generalist floral visitors, and will pollinate a large variety of plants, but by no means all plants. Of all the honey bee species, only Apis mellifera has been used extensively for commercial pollination of crops and other plants. The value of these pollination services is commonly measured in the billions of dollars.

Honey Bee pollinating flowers

Honey

Honey is the complex substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees as a food source for the colony. All living species of Apis have had their honey gathered by indigenous peoples for consumption, though for commercial purposes only Apis mellifera and Apis cerana have been exploited to any degree. Honey is sometimes also gathered by humans from the nests of various stingless bees. In 1911 a bee culturists estimated that a quart of honey represented bees flying over an estimated 48,000 miles to gather the pollen needed for the nectar to produce the honey.

A Natural Beehive of Apis dorsata, The Giant Honey Bee. The bottom right part of the hive shows a few unoccupied honeycombs

Pollinating flowers

Beeswax

Worker bees of a certain age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens. They use the wax to form the walls and caps of the comb. As with honey, beeswax is gathered for various purposes.

Bee (Apis)

A forager collecting pollen

Pollen

Bees collect pollen in the pollen basket and carry it back to the hive. In the hive, pollen is used as a protein source necessary during brood-rearing. In certain environments, excess pollen can be collected from the hives of A. mellifera and A. cerana. It is often eaten as a health supplement.

Propolis

Propolis or bee glue is created from resins, balsams and tree saps. Those species of honey bees that nest in tree cavities use propolis to seal cracks in the hive. Dwarf honey bees use propolis to defend against ants by coating the branch from which their nest is suspended to create a sticky moat. Propolis is consumed by humans as a health supplement in various ways and also used in some cosmetics.

Sexes and castes

There are two sexes of honey bee: females (workers and queens); and males (or drones). A caste is a different form, morphologically or reproductively, within the same sex of a species. In sum, there are three types of honey bees: drones, workers and queens; two sexes: male and female; and two female castes: queens and workers.

Drones

Males or drones are typically haploid, having only one set of chromosomes. They are produced by the queen if she chooses not to fertilize an egg; or by a non-fertilized laying worker. Diploid drones may be produced if an egg is fertilized but is homozygous for the sex-determination allele. Drones take 24 days to develop and may be produced anywhere from summer through autumn. Drones have large eyes used to locate queens during mating flights. Drones do not have a sting.

Workers

Workers are female and have two sets of chromosomes. They are produced from an egg that the queen has selectively fertilized from stored sperm. Workers typically develop in 21 days. A typical colony may contain as many as 60,000 worker bees. Workers exhibit a wider range of behaviors than either queens or drones. Their duties change upon the age of the bee in the following order (beginning with cleaning out their own cell after eating through their capped brood cell): feed brood; receive nectar; clean hive; guard duty; and foraging. Some workers engage in other specialized behaviors, such as “undertaking” (removing corpses of their nest mates from inside the hive).

Workers have morphological specializations: including the corbiculum or pollen basket, abdominal glands that produce beeswax, brood-feeding glands, and barbs on the sting. Under certain conditions (for example, if the colony becomes queen less), a worker may develop ovaries.

Queens

Queen honey bees, like workers, are female. They are created at the decision of the worker bees by feeding a larva only royal jelly throughout its development, rather than switching from royal jelly to pollen once the larva grows past a certain size. Queens are produced in oversized cells and develop in only 16 days. Queens have a different morphology and behavior from worker bees. In addition to the greater size of the queen, she has a functional set of ovaries, and a spermatheca, which stores and maintains sperm after she has mated. The sting of queens is not barbed like a worker’s sting, and queens lack the glands that produce beeswax. Once mated, queens may lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. Queens produce a variety of pheromones that regulate behavior of workers, and helps swarms track the queen’s location during the migratory phase.

Defense

Apis cerana japonica forming a ball around two hornets. The body heat trapped by the ball will overheat and kill the hornets.

All honey bees live in colonies where the workers will sting intruders as a form of defense, and alarmed bees will release a pheromone that stimulates the attack response in other bees. The different species of honey bees are distinguished from all other bee species (and virtually all other Hymenoptera) by the possession of small barbs on the sting, but these barbs are found only in the worker bees. The sting and associated venom sac of honey bees are also modified so as to pull free of the body once lodged (autotomy), and the sting apparatus has its own musculature and ganglion, which allow it to keep delivering venom once detached. The worker dies after the sting is torn from its body. Despite common belief, it is the only species of bee to die after stinging.

It is presumed that this complex apparatus, including the barbs on the sting, evolved specifically in response to predation by vertebrates, as the barbs do not usually function (and the sting apparatus does not detach) unless the sting is embedded in fleshy tissue. While the sting can also penetrate the flexible exoskeletal joints in appendages of other insects (and is used in fights between queens), in the case of Apis cerana defense against other insects such as predatory wasps is usually performed by surrounding the intruder with a mass of defending worker bees, who vibrate their muscles so vigorously that it raises the temperature of the intruder to a lethal level.[11] It was previously thought that the heat alone was responsible for killing intruding wasps, but recent experiments have demonstrated that it is the increased temperature in combination with increased carbon dioxide levels within the ball that produces the lethal effect.[12][13] This phenomenon is also used to kill a queen perceived as intruding or defective, an action known to beekeepers as balling the queen, named for the ball of bees formed.

In the case of those honey bee species with open combs (e.g., A. dorsata), would-be predators are given a warning signal that takes the form of a “Mexican wave” that spreads as a ripple across a layer of bees densely packed on the surface of the comb when a threat is perceived, and consists of bees momentarily arching their bodies and flicking their wings.[14]

Communication

Main article: Bee learning and communication

Honey bees are known to communicate through many different chemicals and odors, as is common in insects, but also using specific behaviours that convey information about the quality and type of resources in the environment, and where these resources are located. The details of the signalling being used vary from species to species; for example, the two smallest species, Apis andreniformis and Apis florea, dance on the upper surface of the comb, which is horizontal (not vertical, as in other species), and worker bees orient the dance in the actual compass direction of the resource to which they are recruiting.

 

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Carpenter Bees

 

Honey Bee Removal | Wasp Removal | Yellow Jacket Removal | Hornet Removal

Carpenter bees have large compound eyes

Characteristics

In several species, the females live alongside their own daughters or sisters, creating a sort of social group. They use wood bits to form partitions between the cells in the nest. A few species bore holes in wood dwellings. Since the tunnels are near the surface, structural damage is generally minor or nonexistent.

Carpenter bees can be important pollinators on open-faced flowers, even obligate pollinators on some, such as the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), though many species are also known to “rob” nectar by slitting the sides of flowers with deep corollas.

In the United States, there are two eastern species, Xylocopa virginica, and Xylocopa micans, and three other species that are primarily western in distribution, Xylocopa varipuncta, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex and Xylocopa californica. X. virginica is by far the more widely distributed species. Some are often mistaken for a bumblebee species, as they can be similar in size and coloration, though most carpenter bees have a shiny abdomen, while in bumblebees the abdomen is completely clothed with dense hair. Males of some species have a white or yellow face, where the females do not; males also often have much larger eyes than the females, which relates to their mating behavior. Male bees are often seen hovering near nests, and will approach nearby animals. However, males are harmless, since they do not have a stinger. Female carpenter bees are capable of stinging, but they are docile and rarely sting unless caught in the hand or otherwise directly provoked.

Many Old World carpenter bees have a special pouch-like structure on the inside of their first metasomal tergite called the acarinarium where certain species of mites (Dinogamasus spp.) reside as commensals. The exact nature of the relationship is not fully understood, though in other bees that carry mites, the mites are beneficial, feeding either on fungi in the nest, or on other, harmful mites.

Carpenter bee nest in a tree trunk

A male Xylocopa caffra carpenter bee, feeding from flower, South Africa

Carpenter bee gallery in a split piece of 2X4 wood

Xylocopa virginica in Indianapolis, United States

Behavior

Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several will nest near each other. It has been occasionally reported that when females cohabit, there may be a division of labor between them, where one female may spend most of her time as a guard within the nest, motionless and near the entrance, while another female spends most of her time foraging for provisions.

Carpenter bees make nests by tunneling into wood, vibrating their bodies as they rasp their mandibles against the wood, each nest having a single entrance which may have many adjacent tunnels. The entrance is often a perfectly circular hole measuring about 16 millimetres (0.63 in) on the underside of a beam, bench, or tree limb. Carpenter bees do not eat wood. They discard the bits of wood, or re-use particles to build partitions between cells. The tunnel functions as a nursery for brood and storage for the pollen/nectar upon which the brood subsists. The provision masses of some species are among the most complex in shape of any group of bees; whereas most bees fill their brood cells with a soupy mass, and others form simple spheroidal pollen masses, Xylocopa form elongate and carefully sculpted masses that have several projections which keep the bulk of the mass from coming into contact with the cell walls, sometimes resembling an irregular caltrop. The eggs are very large relative to the size of the female, and are some of the largest eggs among all insects.

There are two very different mating systems that appear to be common in carpenter bees, and often this can be determined simply by examining specimens of the males of any given species. Species in which the males have large eyes are characterized by a mating system where the males either search for females by patrolling, or by hovering and waiting for passing females, whom they then pursue. In the other type of mating system, the males often have very small heads, but there is a large, hypertrophied glandular reservoir in the mesosoma, which releases pheromones into the airstream behind the male while it flies or hovers. The pheromone advertises the presence of the male to females

 

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Wasp

 

The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant.  Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural bio control. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.

 

Honey Bee Removal | Wasp Removal | Yellow Jacket Removal | Hornet Removal

Wasp stinger, with droplet of venom

Taxonomy

The majority of wasp species (well over 100,000 species) are “parasitic” (technically known as parasitoids), and the ovipositor is used simply to lay eggs, often directly into the body of the host. The most familiar wasps belong to Aculeata, a “division” of Apocrita, whose ovipositors are adapted into a venomous sting, though a great many aculeate species do not sting. Aculeata also contains ants and bees, and many wasps are commonly mistaken for bees, and vice-versa. In a similar respect, insects called “velvet ants” (the family Mutillidae) are technically wasps.

The suborder Symphyta, known commonly as sawflies, differ from members of Apocrita by lacking a sting, and having a broader connection between the mesosoma and metasoma. In addition to this, Symphyta larvae are mostly herbivorous and “caterpillarlike”, whereas those of Apocrita are largely predatory or parasitoids.

A much narrower and simpler but popular definition of the term wasp is any member of the aculeate family Vespidae, which includes (among others) the genera known in North America as yellowjackets (Vespula and Dolichovespula) and hornets (Vespa); in many countries outside of the Western Hemisphere, the vernacular usage of wasp is even further restricted to apply strictly to yellowjackets (e.g., the “common wasp”).

 Categorization

The various species of wasps fall into one of two main categories: solitary wasps and social wasps. Adult solitary wasps live and operate alone, and most do not construct nests (below); all adult solitary wasps are fertile. By contrast, social wasps exist in colonies numbering up to several thousand individuals and build nests—but in some cases not all of the colony can reproduce. In some species, just the wasp queen and male wasps can mate, whilst the majority of the colony is made up of sterile female workers.

 Characteristics

Spider hunting wasp, Heterodotonyx bicolor, and prey

Wings Antenna Thorax Leg Head Stinger Abdomen Female Yellowjacket

The basic morphology of a female yellowjacket wasp

The following characteristics are present in most wasps:

  • Two pairs of wings (except wingless or brachypterous forms in all female Mutillidae, Bradynobaenidae, many male Agaonidae, many female Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, Tiphiidae, Scelionidae, Rhopalosomatidae, Eupelmidae, and various other families).
  • An ovipositor, or stinger (which is only present in females because it derives from the ovipositor, a female sex organ).
  • Few or no thickened hairs (in contrast to bees); except Mutillidae, Bradynobaenidae, Scoliidae.
  • Nearly all wasps are terrestrial; only a few specialized parasitic groups are aquatic.
  • Predators or parasitoids, mostly on other terrestrial insects; most species of Pompilidae (e.g. tarantula hawks), specialize in using spiders as prey, and various parasitic wasps use spiders or other arachnids as reproductive hosts.
  • A pair of talons

 Biology

Genetics

In wasps, as in other Hymenoptera, sexes are significantly genetically different. Females have 2n number of chromosomes and come about from fertilized eggs. Males, in contrast, have a haploid (n) number of chromosomes and develop from an unfertilized egg. Wasps store sperm inside their body and control its release for each individual egg as it is laid; if a female wishes to produce a male egg, she simply lays the egg without fertilizing it. Therefore, under most conditions in most species, wasps have complete voluntary control over the sex of their offspring.

 Anatomy and sex

Anatomically, there is a great deal of variation between different types of wasp. Like all insects, wasps have a hard exoskeleton covering their three main body parts. These parts are known as the head, mesosoma and metasoma. Wasps also have a constricted region joining the first and second segments of the abdomen (the first segment is part of the mesosoma, the second is part of the metasoma) known as the petiole. Like all insects, wasps have three sets of two legs. In addition to their compound eyes, wasps also have several simple eyes known as ocelli. These are typically arranged in a triangular formation just forward of an area of the head known as the vertex.

It is possible to distinguish between sexes of some wasp species based on the number of divisions on their antennae. For example, male yellowjacket wasps have 13 divisions per antenna, while females have 12. Males can in some cases be differentiated from females by virtue of having an additional visible segment in the metasoma. The difference between sterile female worker wasps and queens also varies between species but generally the queen is noticeably larger than both males and other females.

Wasps can be differentiated from bees, which have a flattened hind basitarsus. Unlike bees, wasps generally lack plumose hairs.

 Diet

Adult European beewolf (Philanthus triangulum) feeding on nectar

Sand wasp (Bembix oculata, family Crabronidae) removing bodily fluids from a fly after paralyzing it with the sting

Black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus, family Sphecidae) large black wasp native to North America, feeding on the nectar of a fennel flower

Generally, wasps are parasites or parasitoids as larvae, and feed on nectar only as adults. Many wasps are predatory, using other insects (often paralyzed) as food for their larvae. In parasitic species, the first meals are almost always derived from the host in which the larvae grow.

Several types of social wasps are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of fallen fruit, nectar, and carrion. Some of these social wasps, such as yellow jackets, may scavenge for dead insects to provide for their young. In many social species, the larvae provide sweet secretions that are consumed by adults. Adult male wasps sometimes visit flowers to obtain nectar to feed on in much the same manner as honey bees. Occasionally, some species, such as yellow jackets and, especially, hornets, invade honey bee nests and steal honey and/or brood.[citation needed]

 Role in ecosystem

 Pollination

While the vast majority of wasps play no role in pollination, a few species can effectively transport pollen and therefore contribute for the pollination of several plant species, being potential or even efficient pollinators;[3] in a few cases such as figs pollinated by fig wasps, they are the only pollinators, and thus they are crucial to the survival of their host plants.

 Wasp parasitism

With most species, adult parasitic wasps themselves do not take any nutrients from their prey, and, much like bees, butterflies, and moths, those that do feed as adults typically derive all of their nutrition from nectar. Parasitic wasps are typically parasitoids, and extremely diverse in habits, many laying their eggs in inert stages of their host (egg or pupa), or sometimes paralyzing their prey by injecting it with venom through their ovipositor. They then insert one or more eggs into the host or deposit them upon the host externally. The host remains alive until the parasitoid larvae are mature, usually dying either when the parasitoids pupate, or when they emerge as adults.

 Nesting habits

The type of nest produced by wasps can depend on the species and location. Many social wasps produce nests that are constructed predominantly from paper pulp. The kind of timber used varies from one species to another and this is what can give many species a nest of distinctive color. Social wasps also use other types of nesting material that become mixed in with the nest and it is common to find nests located near to plastic pool or trampoline covers incorporating distinct bands of color that reflect the inclusion of these materials that have simply been chewed up and mixed with wood fibers to give a unique look to the nest. Again each species of social wasp appears to favour its own specific range of nesting sites. D. media and D. sylvestris prefer to nest in trees and shrubs, others like V. germanica like to nest in cavities that include holes in the ground, spaces under homes, wall cavities or in lofts. By contrast solitary wasps are generally parasitic or predatory and only the latter build nests at all. Unlike honey bees, wasps have no wax producing glands. Many instead create a paper-like substance primarily from wood pulp. Wood fibers are gathered locally from weathered wood, softened by chewing and mixing with saliva. The pulp is then used to make combs with cells for brood rearing. More commonly, nests are simply burrows excavated in a substrate (usually the soil, but also plant stems), or, if constructed, they are constructed from mud.

 Solitary wasps

The nesting habits of solitary wasps are more diverse than those of social wasps. Mud daubers and pollen wasps construct mud cells in sheltered places typically on the side of walls. Potter wasps similarly build vase-like nests from mud, often with multiple cells, attached to the twigs of trees or against walls. Most other predatory wasps burrow into soil or into plant stems, and a few do not build nests at all and prefer naturally occurring cavities, such as small holes in wood. A single egg is laid in each cell, which is then sealed, so there is no interaction between the larvae and the adults, unlike in social wasps. In some species, male eggs are selectively placed on smaller prey, leading to males being generally smaller than females.

 Social wasps

The nests of some social wasps, such as hornets, are first constructed by the queen and reach about the size of a walnut before sterile female workers take over construction. The queen initially starts the nest by making a single layer or canopy and working outwards until she reaches the edges of the cavity. Beneath the canopy she constructs a stalk to which she can attach several cells; these cells are where the first eggs will be laid. The queen then continues to work outwards to the edges of the cavity after which she adds another tier. This process is repeated, each time adding a new tier until eventually enough female workers have been born and matured to take over construction of the nest leaving the queen to focus on reproduction. For this reason, the size of a nest is generally a good indicator of approximately how many female workers there are in the colony. Some hornets’ nests eventually grow to be more than half a meter across. Social wasp colonies of this size often have populations of between three and ten thousand female workers, although a small proportion of nests are seen that are over three feet across and potentially contain upwards of twenty thousand workers and at least one queen. What has also been seen are nests close to one another at the beginning of the year growing quickly and merging with one another to create nests with tens of thousands of workers.Polistes Some related types of paper wasp do not construct their nests in tiers but rather in flat single combs.

Social wasp reproductive cycle (temperate species only)

A young European paper wasp queen founding a new colony

Wasps do not reproduce via mating flights like bees. Instead social wasps reproduce between a fertile queen and male wasp; in some cases queens may be fertilized by the sperm of several males. After successfully mating, the male’s sperm cells are stored in a tightly packed ball inside the queen. The sperm cells are kept stored in a dormant state until they are needed the following spring. At a certain time of the year (often around autumn), the bulk of the wasp colony dies away, leaving only the young mated queens alive. During this time they leave the nest and find a suitable area to hibernate for the winter.

 First stage

After emerging from hibernation during early summer, the young queens search for a suitable nesting site. Upon finding an area for their colony, the queen constructs a basic wood fiber nest roughly the size of a walnut into which she will begin to lay eggs.

 Second stage

The sperm that was stored earlier and kept dormant over winter is now used to fertilize the eggs being laid. The storage of sperm inside the queen allows her to lay a considerable number of fertilized eggs without the need for repeated mating with a male wasp. For this reason a single queen is capable of building an entire colony by herself. The queen initially raises the first several sets of wasp eggs until enough sterile female workers exist to maintain the offspring without her assistance. All of the eggs produced at this time are sterile female workers who will begin to construct a more elaborate nest around their queen as they grow in number.

 Third stage

By this time the nest size has expanded considerably and now numbers between several hundred and several thousand wasps. Towards the end of the summer, the queen begins to run out of stored sperm to fertilize more eggs. These eggs develop into fertile males and fertile female queens. The male drones then fly out of the nest and find a mate thus perpetuating the wasp reproductive cycle. In most species of social wasp the young queens mate in the vicinity of their home nest and do not travel like their male counterparts do. The young queens will then leave the colony to hibernate for the winter once the other worker wasps and founder queen have started to die off. After successfully mating with a young queen, the male drones die off as well. Generally, young queens and drones from the same nest do not mate with each other; this ensures more genetic variation within wasp populations, especially considering that all members of the colony are theoretically the direct genetic descendants of the founder queen and a single male drone. In practice, however, colonies can sometimes consist of the offspring of several male drones. Wasp queens generally (but not always) create new nests each year, probably because the weak construction of most nests render them uninhabitable after the winter.

Unlike honey bee queens, wasp queens typically live for only one year. Also queen wasps do not organize their colony or have any raised status and hierarchical power within the social structure. They are more simply the reproductive element of the colony and the initial builder of the nest in those species which construct nests.

 Social wasp caste structure

Not all social wasps have castes that are physically different in size and structure. For example, in many polistine paper wasps and stenogastrines, the castes of females are determined behaviorally, through dominance interactions, rather than having caste predetermined. All female wasps are potentially capable of becoming a colony’s queen and this process is often determined by which female successfully lays eggs first and begins construction of the nest. Evidence suggests that females compete amongst each other by eating the eggs of other rival females. The queen may, in some cases, simply be the female that can eat the largest volume of eggs while ensuring that her own eggs survive (often achieved by laying the most). This process theoretically determines the strongest and most reproductively capable female and selects her as the queen. Once the first eggs have hatched, the subordinate females stop laying eggs and instead forage for the new queen and feed the young; that is, the competition largely ends, with the “losers” becoming workers, though if the dominant female dies, a new hierarchy may be established with a former “worker” acting as the replacement queen. Polistine nests are considerably smaller than many other social wasp nests, typically housing only around 250 wasps, compared to the several thousand common with yellowjackets, and stenogastrines have the smallest colonies of all, rarely with more than a dozen wasps in a mature colony.

 Where to find them

Wasps build their nests in a variety of places, often choosing sunny spots. Nests are commonly located in holes underground, along riverbanks or small hillocks, attached to the side of walls, trees or plants, or underneath floors or eaves of houses. Wasp nests are most easily found on sunny days at dawn or dusk as the low light levels make it easier to spot the Wasps flying in and out of their nests. Wasps will attack and sting humans, particularly if threatened, so care should be taken around Wasps and their nests. Wasp nests found in dangerous places (such as in houses or in commonly used public spaces) should be reported to the local council or pest control service for removal.

 

Wasp and Nest Removal Call (678)340-3269

 

Hornets

 

Hornets are the largest eusocial wasps; some species can reach up to 5.6 cm (2.2 in) in length. The true hornets make up the genus Vespa and are distinguished from other vespines by the width of the vertex (part of the head behind the eyes), which is proportionally larger in Vespa and by the anteriorly rounded gasters (the section of the abdomen behind the wasp waist). The best known species is the European hornet (Vespa crabro), about 2–3 cm in length, widely distributed throughout Europe, Russia, and Northeast Asia.

 

Life cycle

Honey Bee Removal | Wasp Removal | Yellow Jacket Removal | Hornet Removal

The structure of the nest

An entire nest

In Vespa crabro, the nest is founded in spring by a fertilized female known as the queen. She generally selects sheltered places like dark hollow tree trunks. She first builds a series of cells (up to 50) out of chewed tree bark. The cells are arranged in horizontal layers named combs, each cell being vertical and closed at the top. An egg is then laid in each cell. After 5–8 days, the egg hatches, and in the next two weeks, the larva undergoes its five stages. During this time, the queen feeds it a protein-rich diet of insects. Then, the larva spins a silk cap over the cell’s opening and, during the next two weeks, transforms into an adult, a process called metamorphosis. The adult then eats its way through the silk cap. This first generation of workers, invariably females, will now gradually undertake all the tasks formerly carried out by the queen (foraging, nest building, taking care of the brood, etc.) with one exception: egg-laying, which remains exclusive to the queen.

Life history of Vespa crabro

As the colony size grows, new combs are added, and an envelope is built around the cell layers until the nest is entirely covered with the exception of an entry hole. At the peak of its population, the colony can reach a size of 700 workers, which occurs in late summer.

At this time, the queen starts producing the first reproductive individuals. Fertilized eggs develop into females (called “gynes” by entomologists), and unfertilized ones develop into males (sometimes called “drones”). Adult males do not participate in nest maintenance, foraging, or caretaking of the larvae. In early to mid autumn, they leave the nest and mate during “nuptial flights”. Males die shortly after mating. The workers and queens survive at most until mid to late autumn; only the fertilized queens survive over winter.

Other temperate species (e.g. the yellow hornet, V. simillima, or the Oriental hornet, V. orientalis) have similar cycles. In the case of tropical species (e.g., V. tropica), life histories may well differ, and in species with both tropical and temperate distributions (such as the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia), it is conceivable that the cycle depends on latitude.

Distribution

Hornets are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. The common European hornet, also called Vespa crabro, is the better known species, widely distributed in Europe (but is never found north of the 63rd parallel), in North China and also the only species introduced to North America, Ukraine and European Russia (except in extreme northern areas). In the east, the species’ distribution area stretches over the Ural Mountains to Western Siberia (found in the vicinity of Khanty-Mansiysk). The common European hornet was accidentally introduced to North America about the middle of the 19th century, and has lived there since at about the same latitudes as in Europe. However, it has never been found in western North America. In Asia, the common European hornet is found in southern Siberia, as well as in eastern China.

The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) lives in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia, China, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indochina, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, but is most commonly found in the mountains of Japan, where they are commonly known as the Giant Sparrow Bee. It also occurs in semi-dry sub-tropical areas of Central Asia (Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Oman, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), southern Europe (Italy, Malta, Albania, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus), North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia), and along the shores of the Gulf of Aden and in the Middle East. It has been also introduced to Madagascar.

The Asian predatory wasp, Vespa velutina has been introduced to France and Spain.

Stings

Hornets have stings used to kill prey and defend hives. Hornet stings are more painful to humans than typical wasp stings because hornet venom contains a large amount (5%) of acetylcholine. (see Schmidt Sting Pain Index). Individual hornets can sting multiple times; unlike typical bees, hornets and wasps do not die after stinging because their stingers are not barbed and are not pulled out of their bodies.

The toxicity of hornet stings varies according to hornet species; some deliver just a typical insect sting, while others are among the most venomous known insects. Single hornet stings are not in themselves fatal, except sometimes to allergic victims. Multiple stings by non-European hornets may be fatal because of highly toxic species-specific components of their venom.[The stings of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica) are the most venomous known.People who are allergic to wasp venom are also allergic to hornet stings. Allergic reactions are commonly treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) injection using a device such as an epinephrine auto injector, with prompt follow-up treatment in a hospital. In severe cases, allergic individuals may go into anaphylactic shock and die unless treated promptly.

Attack pheromone

Hornets, like many social wasps, can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense, which is highly dangerous to animals and humans. The hornet attack pheromone is released in case of threat to the nest, and to mark prey, such as bees. Three biologically active chemicals: 2-pentanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, and 1-methylbutyl 3-methylbutanoate, have been identified. In field tests, 2-pentanol alone triggered mild alarm and defensive behavior, but adding the other two compounds increased aggressiveness in a synergistic effect.

If a hornet is killed near a nest it may release pheromone which can cause the other hornets to attack. Materials that come in contact with pheromone, such as clothes, skin, and dead prey or hornets, can also trigger an attack, as can certain food flavorings, such as banana and apple flavorings, and fragrances which contain C5 alcohols and C10 esters.

Prey

Adult hornets and their relatives (e.g., yellow jackets) feed themselves on nectar and sugar-rich plant foods. Thus, they can often be seen on the sap of oak trees, rotting sweet fruits, honey and any sugar-containing foodstuffs. Hornets frequently fly into orchards to feast on over-ripe fruit. Hornets tend to gnaw a hole into fruit to be totally immersed in its meat. A person who accidentally plucks a fruit with a feeding hornet can be attacked by the disturbed insect.

The adults prey on various insects as well, which they kill with stings and jaws. Due to their size and the power of poison, hornets are able to kill large insects such as honey bees, grasshoppers and locusts without difficulty or much effort. The victim is fully masticated and then fed down in the form of slurry to the larvae developing in the nest, rather than consumed by the adult hornets. Given that some of their prey are considered pests, hornets may be considered beneficial under some circumstances.

Hornets and other Vespidae

European hornet with the remnants of a honey bee

While taxonomically well-defined, there may be some confusion about the differences between hornets and other wasps of the family Vespidae, specifically the yellow jackets, which are members of the same subfamily. Yellow jackets are generally smaller than hornets and are bright yellow and black, whereas hornets may often be black and white.

Some other large wasps are sometimes referred to as hornets, most notably the bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) found in North America. It is set apart by its black and ivory coloration. The name “hornet” is used for this and related species primarily because of their habit of making aerial nests (similar to the true hornets) rather than subterranean nests. Another example is the Australian hornet (Abispa ephippium), which is actually a species of potter wasp.

Hornet and Nest Removal Call (678)340-3269 to schedule an appointment.

All information on this page taken from Wikipedia, All references used documented on Wikipedia’s pages.

 

 

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