Meat bees, also known as yellowjackets or yellow jackets, are a type of predatory social wasps common in North America. They’re so named due to their high preference for meat. Yellowjackets feed by foraging for meat in trash cans or preying on live insects.
But as you shall find, meat bees are not obligate carnivores. These wasps also feed on nectar, during which they promote flower pollination. Yellow jackets also have a high affinity for sugars and won’t mind gorging themselves on your leftover chocolate bars or ice cream.
Like all wasps, meat bees can turn into a huge menace if allowed to form a colony in your home. That’s why it’s imperative to get rid of them at the earliest signs of infestation.
This article shall offer valuable insights into how to get rid of meat bees from your home, but first things first.
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Differences Between Meat Bees and Honey Bees
Despite their etymological similarities, meat bees and honey bees have legitimate differences. For starters, meat bees are actually wasps whereas honey bees are considered bees.
Taxonomically speaking, meat bees belong in the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. Each genus produces several species. On the other hand, honey bees are taxonomically classified in the genus Apis Linnaeus. The genus is further split into three major sub-genera, including Subgenus Micrapis, Subgenus Megapis, and Subgenus Apis. Each subgenus produces at least two species.
In terms of physical appearance, yellowjackets aptly live up to their name. These wasps have a bright-yellow jacket-like structure that dominates their black base. Honey bees, on the other hand, have dull off-yellow bodies which generally appear as alternating patterns between golden-brown or amber color and black stripes.
Still on physical appearance, meat bees are nearly the same length as honey bees. However, yellowjackets have a slender body and wings, with a characteristic thin waist and yellow or white face, whereas honey bees have a fairly round body with fuzzy hairs, flat hind legs, and wide wings. The following are other noticeable differences between meat bees and honey bees:
Yellowjackets mostly nest underground. They can also nest in woodpiles, eaves, or dense vegetation. These wasps prefer nesting in concealed spots with fairly camouflaged entrances.
On the other hand, honey bees nest by creating wax hives for their colonies. Their ideal location includes hollow trees, rock crevices, and honey bee boxes.
Unlike yellowjackets that prefer to operate stealthily, honey bees don’t mind being made out by humans or other animals provided their colonies are not rattled.
Yellowjackets’ main diet consists of insects like flies and beetle grubs. These wasps are also highly attracted to ready meat, which explains their moniker. You’ll often see them foraging for meat and sweets around trash cans and garbage collection points.
Honey bees’ diet mainly comprises nectar and pollen. That explains their wide presence around blooming flowers.
Both meat bees and honey bees offer unique benefits to humans and the environment at large.
Honey bees are most noted for their role in flower pollination. They’re among the most reliable plant pollinators, besides wind and other insects.
Yellowjackets may also do some pollinating. However, their primary benefit is pest control.
Why Should You Get Rid Of Meat Bees?
We’ve just pointed out that meat bees could be used for pest control. So, you might be wondering how then it’s necessary to get rid of them in your home.
While meat bees may help to keep the population of houseflies and other pesky insects in check, these wasps are a menace in their own right.
The main reason yellowjackets are such a huge problem is that they’re highly territorial and ruthlessly aggressive. When rattled, most insects (including the highly-territorial honey bee) only sting once. But that’s not the case with yellow jackets, which are known to sting multiple times.
Even worse, it doesn’t take much to provoke yellow jackets. These wasps will go on the offensive at the slightest provocation.
What complicates the situation further is that if yellowjackets form colonies in your home, you’ll invariably cross paths with them. That’s due to their meat- and sugar-foraging tendencies, which will often see them scavenging around your trash cans and meat grills. With enough motivation, they can even make their way into your house, inflicting vicious stings on anybody or anything that stands in their way.
How to Get Rid Of Meat Bees
1. Adopt Preventive Measures
As with all pests, the most effective way to deal with meat bees is by preventing them from forming colonies in your home in the first place. You can do that by conducting routine checks around your compound.
Prioritize areas where the wasps are more likely to forage, including your trash cans and garbage collection spots.
Note that meat bee nests are often difficult to locate since these wasps mostly live underground. Therefore, you might consider engaging the services of a professional to help carry out these routine checks.
2. Deter Meat Bees by Keeping What They Love Out Of Reach
Meat bees love meat and they don’t really care whether it comes dead or alive. They also love sugary foods.
While nesting underground, yellowjackets will probably be comfortable preying on underground insects. But when they emerge from their nests, they’ll go scavenging for meaty and sugary leftovers in your trash cans.
Therefore, one practical strategy to eliminate these pesky wasps is by keeping all meat and sugary foods out of reach. The best way to go about that is to keep food leftovers indoors or in other locations inaccessible to meat bees. And that includes both human and pet food.
If you must dispose of food leftovers outdoors, ensure you close outdoor garbage cans tightly. Better yet, you might consider burying or burning the leftovers immediately.
3. Construct a Wasp Trap
Another way to get rid of meat bees in your home is by installing hanging traps. This should preferably be done at the onset of warmer months (early spring) when yellowjackets activity tends to pick up.
There are hundreds of affordable non-toxic yellowjackets traps out there. Alternatively, you can make the traps at home using locally available items.
Here’s a brief step on how to construct a homemade meat bee trap:
i. Cut off the top third of a two-liter soda bottle.
ii. Using a tape or staples, re-attach the cut-out into the rest of the bottle such that it now points downward like a funnel
iii. Mix some soap into a small amount of meaty or sugary water and add the mixture to the trap.
iv. Hang the mixture outdoors.
The goal is to attract the queen to the trap and hopefully get rid of her before she can have a chance to start her own nest.
If sugary or meaty water doesn’t work, consider treating the nest with commercial insecticide.
NB: As yellowjackets are highly aggressive and fiercely territorial, it’s recommended to approach the traps with caution.
First off, you should consider removing the traps late in the evening when the wasps are less active, and preferably when the temperature is so low that they won’t fly away.
Also, wear hand gloves and thick protective clothing to avoid getting stung.
And if it comes down to it, hire a professional to help with the safe removal of the traps.
Meat bees can become a big menace if allowed to nest in your home. Fortunately, there are numerous effective ways to get rid of them for good.