Wasps Invade the garden

Asked February 1, 2014, 10:22 AM EST

We have a low railroad timber wall around the garden that is deteriorating. Last year Yellow jackets began to burrow under the wall and into the garden. We have purchased cement retaining wall blocks to replace the RR timbers, and want to rid ourselves of the yellow jackets as organically as possible because they are under the garden soil. They were nasty and aggressive last year to the point of attacking our dogs and my husband repeatedly.
This year we also want to add bees to increase pollination, but wonder whether the yellow jackets will destroy or influence the bee hive.
Is it possible to get rid of the yellow jackets? We have heard they burrow and cause more problems. Do we need to get an expensive exterminator?
How do we rid ourselves as organically as possible of the yellow jackets? Can we do this ourselves? If the yellow jackets can't be eliminated, will it harm a bee hive?

El Paso County Colorado wasps

1 Response

First of all, yellowjackets produce an annual colony, abandoning the old colony at the end of the year. And the old colony is not reused. So, whatever the problem was last year, the situation each year is different.

And for some background on yellowjackets we have a sheet at the Insect Information Web Site you may find of interest: http://bspm.agsci.colostate.edu/files/2013/03/Yellowjackets.pdf

One thing you can do now is try to seal/fill holes where the yellowjackets may try to establish nests next spring (you have plenty of time - the ioverwintered queens do not even begin to try and start a nest until late April. So if you see holes under those wood beams, under flagstones and the like, fill the in and they will not establish there.

As for competition with honey bees they interact minimally. Yellowjackets will feed some on nectar and pollen to maintain the adults (the young are fed animal matter - dead insects and carrion) but yellowjackets are not pollinators. And sometimes yellowjackets will rob out a honey bee colony if it is on its last legs after the queen has died and it has just about died out. But they are not significant factors in honey bee health or the success of beekeeping.

Another sheet we have on the subject of nuisance wasps is at:http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05525.html

I hope this is some help.