Yellow Jacket Nest Removal -- Easy!

As I was doing some bamboo rhizome pruning in the rock-hard ground yesterday, I noticed something cool: pieces of a bee nest! (I almost called it "honeycomb" but I don't know if that's technically correct since this isn't from a honeybee hive.)

My first thought was that it had fallen from one of the bamboos above me. Then I looked around a little more...


And found several more pieces:

Quite cool! Where did they come from?

Actually, the answer was obvious:

There was a pretty large hole dug into the ground, making me think that this was a yellow jacket nest. I wonder who dug it up though? Raccoon? Skunk? Opossum?

The back of the brood combs (which is what these must be, right?) has a great texture to it:

And several little bumps:

That must be where the combs were attached, right?

I stuck a bamboo rhizome into the hole to see how deep it was, but a couple of yellow jackets flew out so I ran away -- fast!  (I've gotten stung by these guys once this year already!)

I didn't know that a nest was over here, so I'm glad that somebody took care of it for me. How do I get them to find the other nest now?


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John  – (October 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM)  

Alan, I have seen several nests uncovered this year on the farm but I don't remember seeing any in years past. There are still likely a brood in the nest that was too deep for whatever uncovered it in the first place so be careful! I was caught gawking and paid dearly for it a few weeks ago! As far as getting the “something” to dig up a different nest I believe you would need to do some initial excavating at extreme risk of course! The ones on the farm were apparently disturbed by my mowing and I believe that is what gave the “something” the preview of the hidden nest. I would suggest a good dose of Chrysanthemum oil and don’t worry about feeding the “something”! John

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (October 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM)  

We've had the same thing happen here. I walked out one morning to a huge hole in the ground near where we keep our rooster secured at night, and there were pieces of comb strewn everywhere! Like you, I had no idea there was a nest there. My money is on skunks. We have a lot of skunks here, and they're very avid diggers looking for bugs and grubs (one just dug up my freshly planted garlic bed).

Stinging insects don't really bother skunks, which is why beekeepers get frustrated with skunks trying to break into their bee hives. We elevated our hives up on a stand about 2 feet high, so the skunks have to expose their bellies to reach the hive entrance. Apparently it's the one place a skunk can't stand to be stung, and it's been effective.

I'd love to be able to get our skunks here to take out yellow jacket nests on cue. We still have a huge, angry, nest in the orchard, and I'm not going anywhere near it!

Rock rose  – (October 9, 2013 at 2:37 PM)  

That would be a horror story for me because I am violently allergic to those stings. I think you need to gas them out before you get hurt. We have the paper wasps here which make a similar honeycomb but smaller. I was fascinated to peer inside the combs and see some white grubs. I had a feeling the wasps were busy feeding them. Some of the cels were sealed and when I popped one open a wasp flew out. Fortunately its wings were soft and I could kill it. I guess I shouldn't be so curious in future.

Alan  – (October 9, 2013 at 4:23 PM)  

I don't remember ever seeing a YJ nest in my yard before, and this year I have two (at least -- who knows if there are more out there).

(These are the longest comments on any post I've done to date!)

Lisa  – (October 10, 2013 at 6:03 AM)  

Ugh - yellow jackets. I mowed over an in-ground hive once and got stung dozens of times. My foot and ankle were virtually paralyzed for days. They are vicious and they are relentless, especially when they feel under attack. Exterminating them is the one yard related task that I relegate to professionals. They will not only eradicate the ones you know about - they will find more if you have them. And in my experience, if you found one nest, you have more. The bees (are they bees? I'm not sure!) that were in the hive that was disturbed have found a new home, and they probably didn't go far. We discovered a huge hive in a hollow wrought iron railing - the whole length of it just buzzing. Horrifying!

Good luck and bee (ha!) careful!

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