The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-23-2004, 06:15 PM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: 'burbs of Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 13,359
Why are the bees so ornery in the fall?

From April to now, the Pundits can pack a little picnic dinner, head to the park, and enjoy a lovely meal outside. Then suddenly, right about this time of year, for no apparent reason, the bees, specifically the honey bees, turn psycho. They crawl into my soda, they hover over us and pester us incessantly. They will only cease to annoy us if you kill them. If you choose to let them land, you can actually witness them EAT food.

What is up with them?

My geraniums and Rose of Sharon and petunias are still blooming and look lovely. They used to be content with what nature provided them. Why do the bees abandon their usual habits and turn into ravenous stinging brats at this time of year?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-23-2004, 06:31 PM
LifeOnWry LifeOnWry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
You sure those are honey bees? There are a number of wasps that resemble bees, but bees are very rarely aggressive, whereas wasps almost always are. These wasps are omnivores, too, so they'll eat meat (these are the little S.O.B.s one finds hovering around trash cans at McDonald's and Dairy Queen in the late summer and early fall.)

If they ARE honey bees, I haven't a clue, but if they're wasps, my advice to you is KILLTHEBASTARDSBEFORETHEYKILLYOU!!!!!!
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-23-2004, 07:11 PM
Eats_Crayons Eats_Crayons is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
I always get stung this time of year. Wait, let me rephrase so you don't think I ge tstung yearly... Everytime I've been stung it's been around this time of year (up to mid-Sptember). The yellow hornet/wasp thingies though, not fuzzy honey bees.

And as I have no siblings it's only been recenlty when a co-worker got stung that I found out that , no, it is NOT normal to be stung on your pinky and have your whole arm swell up. All this time I thought everyone reacted to bee stings they way I do.

I'm scared. Not going outside until they're all dead!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-23-2004, 07:31 PM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
Mostly harmless
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The VunderLair
Posts: 14,549
Yellowjackets get aggressive this time of year because they are stocking up for the winter. Actually, they all die, but the queen goes into egg-laying overdrive, and the eggs survive. Laying eggs takes lots of energy, as does the nest building...
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-23-2004, 08:06 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 51,911
Quote:
Originally Posted by vunderbob
Yellowjackets get aggressive this time of year because they are stocking up for the winter. Actually, they all die, but the queen goes into egg-laying overdrive, and the eggs survive. Laying eggs takes lots of energy, as does the nest building...
I don't think that's actually correct; the nest produces a number of new queens that fly off, mate and overwinter in various places (including wardrobes) - the feeding frenzy is probably to gather energy to build up the new queens' energy reserves for their nuptial flight and to see them through the winter.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-24-2004, 09:01 AM
PunditLisa PunditLisa is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: 'burbs of Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 13,359
So they are wasps and not honey bees? While they are ornery, they have never stung me, knockonwood. I do admit being fascinated by the little buggers. I mean, how hungry they must be to enter the pop can that I am holding right in my hand. Not to mention brave, because I'm quite a bit bigger than they are and I have, count 'em, TWO hands with which to slap them into oblivion. But they ignore me completely and go on about the pop can skerplunking. (I imagine it would be cool and dark in there, like a little bee cave). I also am fascinated watching them land on my chicken and cut off an itty-bitty bite of chicken.

I didn't know that wasps were omnivores, but even so I can't see them transmogrifying deep fried chicken into honey....so I'm still at a loss why suddenly in the fall they turn psycho. Do they feed the queen bee the chicken?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-24-2004, 09:17 AM
Finagle Finagle is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
Posts: 8,406
These are yellowjackets, so I don't think honey enters into the picture.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-24-2004, 09:38 AM
Hanna Hanna is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Like the other posters, I am pretty sure those are Yellow jackets. What I have read is that their natural food sources start getting scarce at the end of summer and they turn to other sources - garbage cans, trash, soda cans...and they do become more agressive in obtaining food. Maybe he cooler weather has reduced the number of other insects they eat.

One year we had a nest above our garage behind a basketball hoop, and I watched some Yellow Jackets try and get back in the nest. This was after a frost, but not a hard frost. There was one larger Yellow Jacket set up as a watchman (it looked like to me) and he would attack any other smaller Yellow Jacket trying to get into the nest. He stung a few to death, and for a few days after I found more Yellow Jacket bodies on my driveway.

MAybe they know it is almost time to die and want to go out in a blaze of glory.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-24-2004, 08:02 PM
quiltguy154 quiltguy154 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Always look for the venom sac after you've been stung. You'll see it pulsing away, pumping out what so many people fear. The poor dears really do take one for the team, they sting you and then they die. The Amazons of the insect world? No venom sac=not a honeybee. Put the blame where it then belongs, i.e. on the yellow jackets and wasps.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:29 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.