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Swarming bees and wasps!

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  • Swarming bees and wasps!

    So in my neck of the woods, we've had swarming bees a LOT more than last year. They tend to be benign, so my answer has been to just keep heading on the track we're on and go through it as quietly as possible if there's no way to avoid it. However, what if we get to an area where I see a hive? After safely riding through one swarm, the next time I passed by I saw a hive (or they were just "resting" because they were gone the next day) so I chickened out and went around. Was that necessary? Now I know wasps are a totally different deal, they are pure evil. Any tips on how to tell if an approaching swarm is bees versus wasps?(do wasps swarm?) Or what to do if they end up being wasps or a wasp nest? Do they tend to be in a tree/bush or on the ground? What to look for???

  • #2
    If you don't disturb the hive by getting close I don't think you would have a problem. But then you have to ask yourself if anyone else has been by.
    I have seen wasps swarm. They are ruthless when mad. Most of the wasps in my area nest in the ground near tree roots. Your horse will step into them before you realize they are there. When I know were the nests are I just circumevent them. If I end up in the midst of them I try to get out of there fast! I avoid swarms.
    If I see area busy with bees or wasps I avoid that too. I have ridden through patches of clover that where "busy" and have had my horse step on a wasp. It stung her and she became quite animated. She actually thought I did it and was upset for awhile.
    Another time I was riding down a step hill when my gelding got stung by a wasp, he started bucking, I thought we were going to summersult down the hill, then I was able to pull him up for a minute and redirect him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just curious - are the bees honey bees or wild bees?

      THere is a severe shortage of honey bees that are used to pollinate fruit trees and other ag products. So if they ARE honey bees, you should contact area conservation / agricultural / cooperative extensions to alert them. There are bee keepers that advertise where I am, looking for swarming honey bees.

      The ground wasps scare me the most. They are VERY nasty. However, I'm learning that wasps do eat the larva of other pest insects... not just the teeny tiny wasps do this... but other species as well. (I always wondered what wasps ate... )

      Not sure how I would handle something like that except to be very cautious. Maybe you could at least get one of the cashel face masks for riding, for your horse ... at least protect the eyes and ears. ??? a bandana for yourself?

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      • #4
        It makes a difference whether they are swarming honeybees or something else. Honeybees swarm when they are moving house. For whatever reason the old homestead wasn't a comfortable place anymore, so they left. They are simply interested in finding a safe place to live ASAP. This isn't just a lot of bees buzzing around tasty flowers; this is a dripping sheet of bees hanging off a tree branch or something. As long as you don't disturb them they have more important things to worry about than you.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by carp View Post
          this is a dripping sheet of bees hanging off a tree branch or something.
          .

          When I came back by, after having ridden through the swarm, this is what I saw. Good description! I decided to avoid them, since I good and counted myself lucky to come through the swarm w/o getting stung. They weren't "after us" in anyway, it was just a bit intimidating to have nowhere to go but through them. The poor little mare with me kept getting bonked on the nose by them and I was just hoping that she wouldn't mind too much and upset them. As far as the question about what kind of bees, they are, I have NO idea.

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          • #6
            Yellowjackets have ground nests. And they're vicious buggers, that come back again, and again. And when they sting ... it hurts.

            (Ask me how I know. )
            "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

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            • #7
              horses do NOT like being stung

              Honeybees are fuzzy and their stingers pull out of their bodies after one sting (and stick in you). You scrape it off quickly and the sting won't be so bad. Wasps, and this includes yellowjackets, are smooth and can sting multiple times.
              Honeybees swarm to move, like Carp says. Both types will come flying out en masse if they perceive a threat to the hive. A hive can be in the ground (yellowjackets) in a wall, hole in a tree, the eaves, water meter boxes, boxes in your barn, any hole or void that can be easily filled with the wax comb (exclusive to honeybees). The pretty grey papery things you see hanging from the eaves, in trees, in your horse trailer - wasps. Ditto the mud things.
              How to know when you are near a hive - well honestly I've found out more times by being stung. Those yellowjackets are nasty and territorial, and with nests in the ground they are hard to see. Mostly I think you need to be aware of motion. The ones I have spotted before I got stung I noticed activity in and out of the ground, snuck up on it and there they were. Honeybees tend to be higher up, but you look for the motion with them as well, and listen for the humming/buzzing noise, and give all of them wide berth.
              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
              Incredible Invisible

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              • #8
                But there are also carpenter bees (look like bumblees) and of course, the bumbles... that are the yellow & black bees.
                Honey bees are honey colored and smaller than bumbles or carpenter bees.

                Yes, the swarm is when they are moving "houses" and changing queen bees.

                There has been a HUGE HUGE loss in honeybees in the past few years and scientists and biologists cannot understand what is killing bees and making them leave their hives. It's called "Colony Collapse Disorder"

                http://southeastfarmpress.com/mag/fa...oss_honey_bee/

                http://www.voanews.com/specialenglis...TOKEN=68833980

                http://beealert.blackfoot.net/~beeal...ap_march07.pdf

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                • #9
                  One of my mares stepped in a ground hornet's nest and got stung very, very badly all over her face and neck and was pretty swollen. Next day, she stepped in another one. She wound up with severe stings and swelling all about the face and neck, and a gutteral pouch infection. The end result was a lot of facial paralysis. At first, she couldn't control her right ear and it lay at half mast all the time. She also lost the blink reflex in her right eye. The blink reflex finally came back and she now has (3 years later) almost complete control over her ear. She has a twisted nose and a droopy lip. She still has some trouble chewing, although she can eat grass and long stemmed hay. She gets well soaked beet pulp pellets, because, unlike the shredded beet pulp, the pellets are pulverized before making them into pellets and the rest of her feed is added after it is well soaked. She does well with that ration. If she gallops around a bit she seems to have rough and raspy breathing for a bit, but other than that she is OK. She also had a lot of peripheral nerve damage and had an extremely high startle reflex for quite a while - touch her anywhere forward of the withers and shoulder and she would jump a mile - even if she could see you. Most of that is gone now as well. She now has a job as a broodmare (and an excellent producer at that). I don't think she could hold a bit in her mouth and she would probably have respiratory problems if she were put under saddle. She is a bit of a slow eater, but with compatible horses, she does extremely well in turnout and living in a field situation with a run-in shed.

                  Nasty, nasty ground hornets!!!
                  Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                  Now apparently completely invisible!

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                  • #10
                    Tiki I sure feel for you as two years ago my Percheron mare Smoke was stung severely after walking into a large nest of ground hornets. They had built a nest inside some old hay I had laying up against a tree, and not knowing they were there, had let her out in our yard to eat grass. I went downstairs to do some work on my computer and when I came up about an hour or so later, I looked out the front door to see Smoke dripping sweat and pacing, almost erratically.

                    Ran out there to try to calm her down, some man came and asked if she was my horse, as she had been running along the main road by our house. I had been so concerned about her, my mind finally came back on and realized that she had gone through our oak fence in three areas! Two of the places we think trying to get away from the swarm, then racing across our pasture hit a post sunk in concrete trying to jump it and snapped it off when her chest hit it! She was stung all under her stomach, legs, udder, chest, belly and legs.

                    Vet came out, we tubed her as she was colicking bad, then got her in her stall, she was depressed, lethargic, and refused anything to drink, so I stayed all night in the barn to monitor her vitals and in the morning when she was tucked up in the flanks bad I called a friend who had a large trailer, then called the vet who said to get her there immediately and they put her on I.V. fluids for 3 days. The first two and a half days we were really worried as we couldn't get gut sounds on one side, but she was okay by the middle of the 3rd day and I would go see her every day. The 4th day they felt I could take her home and after a $1300 vet bill as well as special front shoes with silicone padding on the sole part, another $250, she is now sound and good to go.

                    After that, when I ride I try to never get off the trail, as those suckers are mean and they are ruthless when they go after you. A wasp, regardless of the size, can bite and sting multiple times while being "anchored" to you by their pinchers, as their abdomen can be moved around, hence why you get multiple bites in a small area.
                    Last edited by SmokenMirrors; Apr. 22, 2008, 08:43 PM. Reason: left out information

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Belplosh View Post
                      Tiki I sure feel for you as two years ago my Percheron mare Smoke was stung severely after walking into a large nest of ground hornets. They had built a nest inside some old hay I had laying up against a tree, and not knowing they were there, had let her out in our yard to eat grass. I went downstairs to do some work on my computer and when I came up about an hour or so later, I looked out the front door to see Smoke dripping sweat and pacing, almost erratically.

                      Ran out there to try to calm her down, some man came and asked if she was my horse, as she had been running along the main road by our house. I had been so concerned about her, my mind finally came back on and realized that she had gone through our oak fence in three areas! Two of the places we think trying to get away from the swarm, then racing across our pasture hit a post sunk in concrete trying to jump it and snapped it off when her chest hit it! She was stung all under her stomach, legs, udder, chest, belly and legs.

                      Vet came out, we tubed her as she was colicking bad, then got her in her stall, she was depressed, lethargic, and refused anything to drink, so I stayed all night in the barn to monitor her vitals and in the morning when she was tucked up in the flanks bad I called a friend who had a large trailer, then called the vet who said to get her there immediately and they put her on I.V. fluids for 3 days. The first two and a half days we were really worried as we couldn't get gut sounds on one side, but she was okay by the middle of the 3rd day and I would go see her every day. The 4th day they felt I could take her home and after a $1300 vet bill as well as special front shoes with silicone padding on the sole part, another $250, she is now sound and good to go.

                      After that, when I ride I try to never get off the trail, as those suckers are mean and they are ruthless when they go after you. A wasp, regardless of the size, can bite and sting multiple times while being "anchored" to you by their pinchers, as their abdomen can be moved around, hence why you get multiple bites in a small area.
                      SO sorry about your girl, I'm glad that she came out all right, what an ordeal!!!! And thanks for the last part, as if I wasn't terrified enough of those stupid wasps, picturing one hanging on me or my horse and stinging the heck out of us multiple times....wow!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Depending on where you are you need to be alert for the Africanized bees too. Here's an informative link. Since I am in NM I do try to stay alert and not store things like flower pots and buckets upside down.

                        http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/sep/stories/kbees.html
                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_bee

                        I was watching a program on the africanized bees and one of the things they mentioned that I found very interesting is that if you are approaching a hive and you don't know it, very often there is a 'scout' bee that will just fly into you as a test, will usually smack you in the forehead. If you retreat it will leave you alone. If you advance it will sting and once it stings the whole dang hive will join in. For some reason once the africanized bees frenzy, normal honey bees will also join in the attack as well. Honey bees usually only swarm once a year as the hive grows and splits but the africanized bees can swarm any time of year and multiply faster than the honey bee. According to that show. Both interesting and a bit unnerving too.

                        Fortunately, right were I live, we don't seem to have issues with bees. (now, wasps on the other hand, we have planty of and they roost in the hay barn) Going to other places, like California (Tevis trail) was an education for me. I don't normally have to worry about bees trailside. I was taking pix at Tevis one year and where I was standing I DID get 'buzzed' by a lone bee about every 10 minutes and it did pop me a couple of times. After a while it's visits were more infrequent. Now having seen that program I know it was a 'scout' bee checking me out (I have no idea if it was an africanized bee or not, it could have been a normal bee with the same instinct). Fortunately I never moved and soon it was the biting flys that were the danger.
                        Cristy Cumberworth
                        www.CristyCumberworth.com
                        www.madmares.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dune View Post
                          Or what to do if they end up being wasps or a wasp nest? Do they tend to be in a tree/bush or on the ground?
                          The first one to notice we've encountered yellowjackets (most common on trail rides) yells "BEES!!!"

                          We run. Very fast.

                          What to look for???
                          Flat, open ground so your horse can run. Very fast.
                          Laura Martlock
                          Virginia Horse Council Board of Directors
                          Owner of The Mane Street
                          Wildwood Farm Lessons and Training

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