Aggressive Pollinator

Brand Manager’s garden visited by an unidentified flying object.

Knowing honeybees are big fans of Lavender, this past Spring I purchased several plants and potted them near my hive. Sure enough they have been a huge hit and they are great to sit near and observe the buzzing activity. For the most part I have observed primarily honeybees and from time to time a big black carpenter bee. I have also seen some smaller honeybee type species which I would not begin to try and identify at this point.

This weekend I observed the visitor above that I have not ever seen before. He/she is a very interesting mix between what I see as a yellowjacket, honeybee and a bumble bee. The abdomen, waxy to the eye and colored similar to a yellowjacket, the thorax furry like a bumblebee and the head really a mix of a honeybee and a yellowjacket. The wings were similar to a yellowjacket too. It could hover perfectly still as well.

What struck me as most interesting about this visitor is that he/she very aggressively kept the honeybees away from the lavender, often times pouncing on unsuspecting bees as they were slurping up nectar. And not just shooing them away but chasing them a good distance from the lavender. An interesting visitor and by the ratio of honeybees to him/her, I’m not too worried of an adverse effect on the honeybees.

Have you ever seen this pollinator in your yard? Do you know what it is called? If so, drop us a line to let us know. We’ll do some investigating on our end too.

Stand Corrected

Or what we should call Honeybees VS Yellowjackets part deux!

Perhaps some of you might remember our first post on this important subject, making sure people do not confuse the two – which happens a lot! We asked our good friend JP (an excellent photographer and a subject for a future post) to send us some shots of Honeybees and Yellowjackets. We were appreciative and posted. Below is an e-mail we received back from him not too long ago. Click to enlarge.

Entomologists we are not. It just so happens the Brand Foreman’s neighbor sends, via e-mail, some shots he has taken recently and BAM! Our culprit the Yellowjacket caught right in the act of eating what I can only assume is a chicken nugget, all seven herbs and spices too!

I don’t ever recall a Honeybee dining on a chicken nugget. Case hopefully closed. And for those who might be wondering about the misidentified “pollinating wasp”, here is the link to learn more about them.

Wasp-like Hoverflies

If I’m a betting man, this might not be the last we hear on this post.

Huge thanks to JP and Martin!

Honeybees VS Yellowjackets

One of the first questions we are typically asked by our prospective clients when discussing setting up a hive on their property is, “will the the Bees bother me?”. The simple answer is an emphatic “No”. Now certainly the location of a hive is carefully taken into consideration and typically positioned in an area that is not adjacent to high traffic or high use or play areas.

While the Bay Area serves as prime habitat for honeybees (pictured above), it unfortunately also serves as prime habitat for yellowjackets (pictured below). No regions are immune to this aggressive backyard pest and unfortunately they are often mis-identified as “bees”.

We are here to set the record straight, honeybees and yellowjackets are very different from one another and given the right information to look for, are actually quite easy to differentiate from one another.

Take a close look at the picture below and then read a few facts about how they differ from one another:

Honeybees and yellowjackets are distinctly different in color with yellowjackets having a more primary yellow coloration to the honeybee’s orangish/amber/brown.

Honeybees have a lightly fuzzy / hairy look to their bodies while yellowjackets have an almost glossy / waxy hairless look to their bodies.

Honeybees are pollinators and collect pollen within the hairs on their legs, yellowjackets do not have these hairs and are rarely seen with collections of pollen on their legs.

Honeybees eat nectar and are often found hovering around and pollinating flowers, yellowjackets are predatory (meat eaters), and while not attacking normal prey, can be distinctly found hovering around picnic tables and BBQs.

A honeybee’s flight pattern can be characterized as almost smooth in appearance, while a yellowjacket can be very fast with a rapid side to side movement prior to landing.

Honeybees have glands that can produce wax for construction of their honeycomb, yellowjackets do not have these wax producing glands.

Now that you are in the know, we’re sure you won’t mistake Yellowjackets for Honeybees. Should you have a stubborn persistent problem with yellowjackets in and around your yard there are several helpful resources that can inform you on how to eliminate and or mange these pests. Start with your local County Vector Control: