I have yellow jackets - should I exterminate them?

Asked November 10, 2017, 9:38 AM EST

I have had yellow jackets living in my shutters for years. They aren’t aggressive and have never stung anyone. I’ve always thought they were good for my garden by getting rid of other bugs. A new neighbor keeps bees and is complaining tha “my” yellow jackets are killing her bees. Should I let her exterminate “my” “pet” yellow jackets?

Marion County Oregon

2 Responses

It’s true that yellowjackets can be troublesome for beekeepers. They may rob hives for the honey, also to obtain young bees which are food for their own larvae (youngsters. But, yes, yellowjackets are helpful in getting rid of other bugs, many of them pesky.

Further, when it comes to managing robbed hives, one must also consider other honey bees as the culprits. Small, or weak, hives are especially vulnerable to being robbed.

In our region, an individual yellowjacket nest survives only one year. By the end of the year – usually by mid-December in the Willamette Valley – all the residents except the newly mated queens die. The surviving queens spend the winter in a sheltered place, resting in the duff on the soil, or an inch or so into the soil. Next year, the new nests are seldom in the same place as the old ones, perhaps not even on the same property.

Yellowjackets are widespread throughout the country. Put simply, you won’t be able to eradicate those at your place or nearby. Even so, the beekeeper has several options to limit the raids on the hives. You’ll want to share this information by forwarding this reply to your neighbor. In that way, she can click the links to read the articles.

Here are some publications and websites to review. “Protecting Honeybees Against Yellowjackets” presents an overview of the situation and some potential remedies. “What to Do About Yellowjackets” includes suggestions for using commercial yellowjacket traps; rigging a homemade trap with a small piece of meat; and adding a robbing screen to the hive. “Preventing Robbing” details the use of robber screens which can be attached to hives.

No single remedy will be 100%. Managing hives requires continued attention, just as does everything else that we humans want to succeed.

Brilliant! Perfect answer! Many thanks.