Things That Don’t Happen in a City Apartment

I was deleting old email this morning and found a letter to my brother (in New York City) about a gardening experience in July of 2013.

Things That Don’t Happen in a City Apartment

See Rob
See Rob Pulling Up Weeds
Pull Rob, Pull!

See Rob Fight with a bamboo root
Fight Rob, Fight!

See the Air Full of Flying Things
Fly Things, Fly!

What Are Those Flying Things?
Why Are They Making a Buzzing Noise?
Those are Yellowjackets. Rob has unearthed their nest

See Rob staring at the yellowjackets.
See the yellowjackets stinging Rob.
Hear Rob shout profanities.
See Rob running up the hill in a cloud of yellowjackets.

See Rob hosing himself down.
The yellowjackets have gone home.

Several take-away points:

  • Yellowjackets are not bees, they are wasps. Don’t get them confused. Learn how to tell them apart. Please don’t call them meat bees, and try to educate anyone who uses that term
  • Yellowjacket wasps will make nests in the ground. In the late summer and fall, they will defend them very aggressively
  • Always be careful what you pull on … you might not be happy with what you find at the other side

If you find a yellowjacket nest on your property, do not call your local beekeeping Swarm Squad (MoCo MD | Washington DC) . Your options are:

  • Do nothing. Leave it alone … they are beneficial insects that prey on a variety of other insects and maintain a balanced ecosystem. Put up a couple of warning flags near the nest so that you don’t stumble into it again. If I were not keeping bees, this would be my goto solution, but wasps will raid a bee hive for the honey and larvae.
  • Destroy the nest yourself. This is not recommended for the faint-of-heart or anyone with allergies to insect stings … and is potentially dangerous (protective clothing such as a full bee suit and veil is highly recommended). I have used this boiling soapy water and a large bowl technique successfully in the past. Please do not pour toxic chemicals like gasoline, etc. into the ground.
  • Call a professional exterminator.

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