Toledo Talk

Attack of The Bumble Bees

Wasn't that a ballet of some sort?

Anyways, for the last two years these bumble bees on steroids have taken over our back yard. They seem like a mix of hornet and bumble bee and are as aggresive as hell. They chase the birds, rabbits, kids - anything that is back there. One last night waited at the back window for me to come out. The kids thought it was funny but geez, I don't ever remember as a kid, bumble bees attacking people!

I did some research but didn't find an exact match.

Anyone having bumble bees form squadrons in their yard?

created by Molsonator on Apr 28, 2009 at 11:37:49 am     Comments: 21

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Can you be more be specific about the exact species?

posted by holland on Apr 28, 2009 at 11:49:03 am     #  

My mother has the same thing in her backyard in South Toledo. It's funny that you mentioned one waiting by the back window. This exact same thing happened outside her back door almost begging for the door to open so it could proceed inside. I am not really sure of the species although they are large and almost entirely black similar to the dark Bombus ruderarius found in England.

posted by KraZyKat on Apr 28, 2009 at 11:56:25 am     #  

Katz is right. That is the closest to it.

What was funny is a bird flew down to eat one and the bee chased the bird a way.

posted by Molsonator on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:13:31 pm     #  

We had a problem with them around here in Rossford last year. We just got out the hand held bug zapper. They eventually became few and fewer.

posted by lfrost2125 on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:24:20 pm     #  

Could be a male carpenter bee.

Info from

In the late-spring and early summer, homeowners often notice large, black bees hovering around the outside of their homes. These are probably carpenter bees searching for mates and favorable sites to construct their nests. Male carpenter bees are quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. The males are quite harmless, however, since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can inflict a painful sting but seldom will unless they are handled or molested.

Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees, but the upper surface of their abdomen is bare and shiny black; bumble bees have a hairy abdomen with at least some yellow markings.

posted by ToledoLatina on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:31:10 pm     #  

I think your right TL. They look like Carpenter bees.

posted by KraZyKat on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:33:25 pm     #  

That's a good site ToledoLatina. I have the Carpenter bees hanging around our new deck. House shopping I presume. They're big enough to run us off the deck!

posted by holland on Apr 28, 2009 at 12:49:05 pm     #  

Could be a secada killer. A friend of mine had these inhis backyard last year. Nasty little suckers. Can be killed with insecticides.

posted by hunkytownsausage on Apr 28, 2009 at 01:08:17 pm     #  

^^secada = cicada

posted by hunkytownsausage on Apr 28, 2009 at 01:10:19 pm     #  

Male cicada killer wasps are actually harmless, since they have no stinger, but they agressively dart around the nest area and freak people out. The females can sting, but they usually stay in the ground except when they are hunting cicadas. Females rarely sting humans unless humans are dumb enough to pick them up or step on them. Cicada killers do not usually show up until late June or early July in this area.

Agreed that the "bumblebee" above is probably a carpenter bee. They have been busy around my house the past week with the warm weather.

posted by historymike on Apr 28, 2009 at 01:37:49 pm     #  

I have them in my neighbor's backyard. She wants them gone. I have found you can have fun with them if you use a tennis racket. It's stuns them so you can finish the job. Saw one like this,, carrying a cicada.

posted by oldsendbrdy on Apr 28, 2009 at 01:45:59 pm     #  

We leave them alone. Everything has a place in nature, and unfortunately we're running out of nature.

posted by holland on Apr 28, 2009 at 01:58:33 pm     #  

I would normally agree with you Holland, but 2 of my kids are deathly allergic to bees, so they have to go, if they are in the yard, or have a nest in our yard somewhere.

posted by lfrost2125 on Apr 28, 2009 at 02:47:19 pm     #  

Children should always be first.

But the rest of you adults just suck it up.

posted by holland on Apr 28, 2009 at 02:49:56 pm     #  

I think the bees in our backyard right now are Mining Bees ( Andrenidae ) and not Carpenter Bees. These alleged Mining Bees first appear in our backyard in late March, and their numbers increase throughout April. These bees burrow up out of the ground. I'll post photos later. I see them each spring.

The Oak Openings Region runs through West Toledo. We have sandy soil. Small mounds of beige-colored sand exist in and around our flowerbeds. This lighter-colored sand is sand that has been brought to the surface. These little sand piles have a small hole in the middle. The bees fly around low to the ground. And on sunny days, these bees like to bang into the back side of our house, which faces south. I walk through them. No chemicals needed. In the past, I don't remember seeing them much past spring.

A little more about the Mining Bee :

Mining bees, or digger bees, (familys Andrenidae & Anthophoridae) nest in burrows in the ground. Unlike the honey bee, mining bees are "solitary" bees. They do not form long-lived colonies, nor do they live inside a single, well-defended nest controlled by one queen bee. Instead, each mining bee female usually digs her own individual burrow to rear her own young. Large numbers of these bees may nest near one another if soil conditions are suitable.

Mining bees are not aggressive and seldom, if ever, sting. The presence of numerous bees flying close to the ground, however, may constitute a nuisance for some people. Sometimes large numbers of males will fly about the same spot for several days in a mating display.

Mining bees range in size from about the size of honey bees to much smaller. The larger bees are furry and usually darker in color than honey bees. Some are brightly striped, while others are a shiny metallic green. Mining bee burrows may be located wherever there is exposed soil and good drainage. They are frequently found nesting in banks, such as along road cuts or any type of excavation, but may also be in level ground as well. The holes are about 6 mm (1/4 inch) or less in diameter. They are sometimes surrounded by a small mound of soil that the bee has brought up to the surface. Burrow structure varies according to species, but often there is a vertical tunnel with smaller side tunnels that terminate in a single cell.

The female mining bee stocks each cell with pollen and nectar she collects from flowers and then deposits an egg on the food mass. The larva hatches and consumes the stored pollen and nectar. When mature, it becomes a pupa, or resting stage, and finally becomes an adult bee. The adult bees overwinter below ground in the burrow site. During the next spring or early summer the adults emerge, mate, and the females begin burrow excavation. Mining bee populations can fluctuate dramatically from one season to the next.

Cicada Killer Wasp - A cool insect.

historymike is right about the Cicada Killers. Leave them alone. People freak about because they fear the unknown. i guess because these wasps are big and brightly-colored, people believe they must be dangerous to humans. After all, some people think dragonflies will bite humans. (BTW, the big, warm winds over the weekend brought in numerous migrating Common Green Darner dragonflies and a few Swamp Darners.)

Cicada Killers also burrow up out of the ground, and they will fly low around the ground near sidewalks where people walk, and that frightens people, so naturally, humans launch their own chemical war.

And like Mike said, the Cicada Killers won't appear around here until July. Guess what a Cicada Killer eats? We don't have cicadas around here in April. Our first cicadas don't appear until late June or early July. If you ever hear a short, loud, weird, cicada-sounding shrill, that's probably a cicada getting nuked by a Cicada Killer Wasp.

More about the Cicada Killers:

Cicada Killers (Specius speciousus): Cicada killers resemble large yellowjackets. They are mostly black with pale yellow markings on the abdomen, and about 5 cm (2 inches) long. Despite their appearance, these insects are inoffensive and usually will not bother people even when provoked.

Their sting is meant for paralyzing their prey and normally does not cause a reaction in humans. They are considered beneficial because they reduce cicada populations. However, they may cause lawn damage if there are large numbers of them nesting in close proximity to each other.

posted by jr on Apr 28, 2009 at 03:24:59 pm     #  

arg, jr, thanks for the reminder!!! I hate that sound!!!!! my mother always called it screaming and we felt bad for the cicadas.

We call our bumbles B52's and love to have them flying around our garden. I think we have a mixture of regular bumbles with the yellow stripes and carpenter bees, which I had never heard of before now, but I will still call them all B52's. They land on flowers and are filling in the gaps where the honeybees aren't, so they are very welcome here.

posted by nana on Apr 28, 2009 at 09:34:12 pm     #  

They are all over our backyard in Sylvania and I usually try to leave them alone. My kids run like hell, and swing bats and tennis rackets at them, but I tell them that they have a purpose and are the main pollinators of several food crops. Without them, we're screwed. Someone said they are disappearing because of their exposure to pesticides. I understand people who have severe allergies to them. My dad was deathly allergic to them, and had to carry around an adrenalin shot in case he was stung. Avoid wearing cologne and perfume in the summer, which only attracts them.

posted by bikerdude on Apr 29, 2009 at 03:22:53 am     #  

Screw 'em. I love Nature as much as the next guy, but I will not tolerate any biting , chewing, or stinging varmints around the homestead. I do try sending for praying mantis eggs first, but I'm not above using sprays.

posted by Darkseid on Apr 29, 2009 at 08:40:58 am     #  

Russell Lamp an area entomologist, is again on the hunt for active yellowjacket colonies to find a source of venom for pharmaceutical firms which manufacture vaccines.

The Eastern yellowjacket (maculifrons) is one of the smaller yellowjackets - and one of the nastier types, he said last week.
Lampís been supplying pharmaceutical firms with yellowjackets for more than 25 years and says an active colony will have 75-100 flying in and out of the nest within a minute or so.

His firm last year was one of the largest suppliers of the venom.

Yellowjackets, which are part of the wasp family, form large populations from August through October and often scavenge for human food such as carbonated beverages, ripe fruit and vegetables, and other fare, according to a fact sheet from Ohio State University.

The Eastern yellowjacket often builds a tan, fragile papery soccer ball or football shaped nest underground though itís not uncommon for them to construct nests in buildings.

The German yellowjacket first appeared in Ohio around 1975 and has become the dominant species in the state. It builds a grey, brittle paper-like nest that is also shaped like a football or soccer ball.

Both species have peak worker populations of 1,000 to 3,000 between May and November.

Both are also aggressive and can sting repeatedly. The venom Lamp seeks is used to manufacture a de-sensitizing agent for people who are highly allergic.

He asks anyone with a possible nest to not disturb it and not spray. Government regulations prevent the use of venom from sprayed nests.

Lamp supplies the insects to laboratories in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Washington.

He can be reached at (419) 836-3710.

He will remove the nest for free. You might want to give him a call

posted by golddustwoman on Apr 29, 2009 at 10:09:29 pm     #  

Golddustwoman - I know Russel from a previous life and the guy is a class act. He will remove a nest for free if it's big enough.

posted by Molsonator on Apr 30, 2009 at 09:34:07 am     #  

Molsonator, I agree, he is a class act. Hoping the info helps those who may have a huge hive issue

posted by golddustwoman on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:52:35 am     #