Summer Stingers: How to Tell The Difference

My Adventures in Beekeeping (Blog) 

How to tell the difference between bees, wasps, and hornets (and why it matters!)

This time of year, most beekeepers I know are inundated with phone calls and text messages asking, “Are these bees?” or “If there are bees in my shed, will you come and get them?” I absolutely LOVE that homeowners are beginning to question before pulling out the Raid and everytime I get a call or message such as this I get excited, however, many of these are false alarms. So I offer this post, not to criticize anyone for questioning the swarming insects at their BBQ, but to offer some insight because mistaking a wasp for a honeybee, for example, could be dangerous.

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Highly Effective New Bait Decimates Wasps While Keeping Bees Safe From Toxins

ABC Rural  By Clint Jasper   November 15, 2015

Photo: Richard Toft's wasp bait has undergone successful trials on New Zealand's south island.New Zealand's primary producers have a new weapon in their fight against European wasps, thanks to a new bait.

Insect ecologist Richard Toft's bait is unattractive to bees and can reduce wasp activity by 95 per cent, according to New Zealand's Department of Conservation.

Wasps cause an estimated $120 million in disrupted pollination and lost honey production in New Zealand, as well as $60 million in environmental damages, conservation minister Maggie Barry told Radio NZ.

Wasps are not native to New Zealand and have no natural predators that can control their population.

Concerns about toxicity to non-target insects have resulted in most of the effective controls for wasps being taken off the table.

There was a major spike in wasp activity in Australia last summer, with attacks across Melbourne and Canberra.

Mr Toft's bait, called Vespex, uses a slow-acting but potent pesticide from German company BASF, which wasps take back to their nests and distribute around the hive, including to the queen.

"If they get a sufficient dose, they will collapse the nest overnight," Mr Toft said.

The innovation has been recognised by the environmental group WWF, which awarded Mr Toft NZ$25,000.

The product will not be sold unless users undergo stewardship training to ensure the bait is used correctly and non-target organisms are not exposed.

Mr Toft said he was actively investigating opportunities to release the bait in Australia.

Jodie Goldsworthy, Beechworth Honey owner and director of the Oceania Commission of the global beekeeping industry body APIMONDIA, told ABC Rural that while European wasps had had no substantial impact on Australia honey production, they were a major public nuisance for local councils, and tourism and hospitality operators.