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  • From: Gene Spears <>
  • To: 'North American Fruit Explorers' <>
  • Subject: RE: [NAFEX] bumble aggression
  • Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 09:47:43 -0400

Lucky's post about using gasoline to get rid of a problem bee nest
has inspired me to share a non-chemical (organic?) technique to get rid of
problem ground nests like those of yellowjackets. Take a large, clear glass
container (gallon jar or 10 gallon aquarium) and cover the nest entrance,
making sure to shove it firmly into the surrounding ground so that there are
no large gaps between the bottom of the container and the ground. Because
there's nothing blocking up their nest entrance, the bees can't figure out
that they need to build a new opening. They'll keep using the old entrance,
but not getting anywhere. Eventually, you have a pile of dead bees around
the entrance and a dead nest (may take up to a week on a big nest). Biggest
problem is making sure your container doesn't tip over in the meantime - an
aquarium is far more stable than a glass jar.
I like bumblebees - about the only thing around here that you can
depend on to visit the apple blossoms - and am perfectly happy to co-exist
with yellowjackets (even though they're a bit of a pest when it's time to
squeeze the cider), but sometimes you just have to get rid of a specific

zone 6 - WNC

I've only had a single encounter with a bumblebee nest, but it wasn't very
much fun. In my limited experience, they're every bit as aggressive as
yellowjackets if you disturb their nest.
I was mowing some fairly rank, overmature grass alongside the driveway a
number of years ago, when WHAM! out of nowhere, those rascals started
nailing me. Of course, I took off on a sprint - ran at least 50 yards to
escape them. Left the lawnmower running - I believe it as positioned
almost directly over the entrance to the nest at the point in time when I
departed. A significant number of bees committed suicide on the mower
blades as they exited the nest, but it still took a good 30 minutes before
I was able to sneak back up to the mower and shut it off. Left it there
until nightfall, when I was able to remove it safely. Hated to do it, but
since I had a 1 & 3 -yr old toddling around at the time, I poured a cup of
gasoline down the hole to finish off any survivors.


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Subject: RE: [NAFEX] bumble aggression
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Good non-toxic idea, Gene.

I'll still use gasoline on yellowjacket nests(I hate those boogers), but
now that I'm into fruit-growing, I try to preserve any and all potential
pollenators. Haven't yet run across a bumblebee nest in the orchard or nut
grove, but I have mowed over a few out in the pasture. Fortunately, I've
spotted them circling around as I made my next pass, and just gave 'em a
wide berth.


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