The admonitions regardning bee stings are, as you know of great concern
to folks with bee sting allergy. The reaction can be quick and fatal,
with breathing difficulties evident in 5-15 minutes. Even if you do not
have a bee-sting allergic family member, it is always wise to have a
bee sting kit on hand, available from most pharmacies. Lacking a bee
sting kit, folks should know that a couple of antihistamine tablets
will often delay the closure of the windpipe thereby permitting a
timely transport to the hospital. (You should also know, that in the
spirit of integhrity and litigation, I am not an MD, RN, LPN, or health
care professional and that you are encouraged to consult with your
However, I do know something about safe removal of bees and wasps.
Fearless as a child, I was encouraged by unwitting grandparents to
destroy wasp and bee nests, which was not a problem for me since I was
not allergic, but certainly was a problem for the bees and wasps. With
what I know now about the beneficial work of bees and wasps, I now feel
as if I was a little ecoterrorist beehomewrecker, and somewhat
surprised that they didn't ask the killer bee mafia to put a contract
out on me.
Bees and wasps are quite temperature sensitive. If you can tolerate
their nest this year, I recommend waiting until after the cold sets in
later this fall. This will allow the nest to play out its reproductive
cycles and allow progeny to subsequently establish colonies elsewhere.
The window location might lengthen their season due to heat
transference from the inside of the house, or if on the sunny side,
from direct solar radiaiton. Sometime in the fall, pull the storm or
screen off to allow more rapid heat loss at night then on a cold
morning safe removal of the nest will be easier.
If removal of the nest at this time is absolutely necessary, wait until
a very cool morning (in the 50s or lower) is expected. The night
before, place ice packs or several of the reusable " blue ice" things
against the inside of your kitchen window surface to help lower the
temperature of the nest. Early the next morning, wearing long sleeves
and pants, gloves, and a hat with a screen if you can fashion one (I
once used a piece of new fiberglass window screen wrapped over my head
under the hat and tied around my neck with string), take several clear,
doubled-up plastic bags and simply, but quickly, cover the nest with
the bags, twist, pull, and then twist the bag shut and head to the
location where you think the wasps and you would be happier. Set the
bag down, let go of the throat of the bag and run. If it's cold enough,
nothing will happen until the sun warms the bag. If the wasps awakened
during the removal and transport, they will be disoriented, and
rightfully feel threatened so some distance between you and the wasps
is prudent. Use a long stick or pole (pruning poles or tree pole saws
work great) to safely remove the bag when the wasps have settled down.
It is the kind of job a fearless teenager loves, and properly advised,
can be safely performed by our non-bee-sting-allergic children,
grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. The youth factor helps since they
tend to be able, when needed, to run faster than the parental types.
Hope this helps.
<excerpt>At 22:20 6/30/98 , email@example.com wrote: >A query
for the sage environmentalists out there:
>A large papery layered nest of black wasps with a thin yellow band on
>abdomen (paper wasps) has appeared in the corner of my kitchen
>let them continue building it (it is a little smaller than a soccer
>partially because I can see into it from the inside of the window and
>their activities fascinating, and partially because I am not sure
>not to remove it --and if so, then how without pesticides.
>Do paper wasps serve any beneficial purpose on the land or do they
>potential danger? Are they neutral and therefore could be left alone?
>they swarm if their numbers grow too big? (The insect books are not
>here and generally view nonpollinating bees and wasp nests as a de
>nuisance) I haven't noticed them doing much of anything other than
>their young and building, building, building.
Some general information on Paper Wasps follows:
Paper Wasp, common name for medium- to large-sized wasps that construct
nests made of a papery material. The nests consist of a single
upside-down layer of brood cells (compartments for the young). There
are 22 species of paper wasps in North America and approximately 700
species world-wide. Most are found in the tropics of the western
Most paper wasps measure about 2 cm (0.75 in) long and are black,
brown, or reddish in color with yellow markings. Paper wasps will
defend their nest if attacked. Adults forage for nectar, their source
of energy, and for caterpillars to feed the larvae (young). They are
natural enemies of many garden insect pests. A widespread North
American species is the golden paper wasp.
The nests of most species are suspended from a single, central stalk
and have the shape of an upside-down umbrella. Some tropical species
make nests that hang in a vertical sheet of cells. Plant and wood
fibers are collected by the wasps, mixed with saliva, and chewed into a
papier-mâché-like material that is formed into the thin cells of the
nest. The nests are constructed in protected places, such as under the
eaves of buildings or in dense vegetation. Normally a colony of several
to several dozen paper wasps inhabit the nest.
Scientific Classification: Paper wasps are in the genus Polistes in the
family Vespidae, which also includes potter wasps, yellow jackets, and
From this I suspect they could be dangerous if disturbed, and
especially so if you are allergic to stings. On the other hand, they
are natural enemies of many garden pests. So if you can live with them
without endangering yourself or others in the area (children either in
the house or living nearby could be at risk), then they may serve a
I tend to leave them alone (the ones we have here) unless they build
in a spot that creates a nuisance for me or other family members. But
I do not have any worries about neighborhood children wandering through
my yard or garden.
When I find a need to remove a nest, I use a long stick or pole to
knock it down. Or if it is very large, maybe burning them with an oil
soaked rag at the end of a pole. I have only resorted to that method
once, but it was effective. I did have to hit the nest several times
as the wasps got very upset about their home being destroyed and I
retreated before they figured out what or who was causing their
problem. Then I went back again after they had settled down.
The location of the nest in your case probably would not be a
candidate for that approach. <<g> You appear to have a very large
colony from the description.
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
Douglas B. Johnson
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