Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Catching Bees....

Or perhaps more accurately, Yellow Jackets.  Yellow Jackets are one of my least favorite critters.  In the summer, they plague you when you are trying to pick berries (they seem to think they should have the berry patch to themselves!).  But even worse than being an annoyance in the summer, they are positively aggressive come fall.  In the summer they seek sweet fruit, but the fall brings out their carnivorous nature.  Just a few days ago, Maid Elizabeth (newly returned from the Philippines) noticed that Yellow Jackets had eaten their way through a package of hamburger on our counter and were systematically carrying their stolen bounty to wherever they carry it to.   This afternoon, Princess Dragon Snack became the latest victim of their cranky attitude.

Following the instructions of my friend Lady Day, the kids set about making Yellow Jacket traps.  Rather than the sweetened water in the bottle trick, we used raw meat to lure the little buggers out.  Lady Day's method is super cheap (free, if you have a little raw meat), super easy and super effective.

First you find a container (we used 4 gallon round buckets) that you can attach a piece of string from side to side.  Fill the bucket with water (however full you would like it) and pour a bit of vegetable oil (enough to make a nice oil slick) in the water.  Then, most importantly, string a piece of raw meat so that it hangs just over the water.  Yellow Jackets are greedy insects so they will grab as much meat as they can fly with.  When they attempt to fly off, they dip down slightly, get covered in the oily water and drop into the bucket, unable to free themselves.

Two minutes after putting the trap out
Five minutes after putting the trap out
We put three traps out - two near the front of the shouse and one near the chicken coop.  Within 5 minutes, our traps were filling up.  The trap near the chicken coop was really successful, catching upwards of 50 bees in 5 minutes.

If you are looking for a simple, cost effective way to reduce your Yellow Jacket population, give this a try.


  1. Why do you insist on calling them bees?

  2. This reminds me of my childhood. When I was a girl, my whole family would spend a few days fishing for salmon in the far northern end of the state (CA). We would be plagued by yellow jackets when we fished, when we ate, when we sat in the shade and sipped our cool drinks. My uncle made a similar trap, but he used a freshly filleted salmon skeleton and a bucket of soapy water. By the end of the weekend, the bucket would be literally filled with the pests.

    I miss those childhood days along the bank of the river with the family, but I don't miss the yellow jackets one bit! They stung us in our mouths (when we drank from a can of soda pop), between our toes (when we wore flipflops), and on our sweaty bare arms. I suppose they serve a purpose in nature, but I am sure hoping there are no yellow jackets in heaven.

    Glad to hear that Maid Elizabeth is back home. Yippee! Hope she is well and that her future is bright.

    NoCal Gal

  3. Good idea.

    Down here in Texas we got Javelina's and Wild Hogs in our nieghborhood. In the early spring a full grown Javelina chased my nieghbor into his car right next door to me. We dont have to go far to hunt, thats for sure. All you need for a Hog is a .22 behind the ear and we got a Texas Barbecue.

  4. Excellent Idea - I love simple solutions like this.

    I also discovered an easy solution for crickets...not as pesky as yellow jackets though. We discovered that they kept getting stuck on loose duct tape from some of our boxes. They apparently like the smell or flavor of the glue on duct tape. We simple started cutting strips and laying them in certain corners of our basement and by next morning we'd catch at least a dozen per strip...cheap and effective.

  5. Don't know why...but we are plagued with wasps this year, yellow jackets, big-red-monster wasps inside our barn-turned-house. I have been very brave, killing lots of them with fly-swatters. But, I absolutely love the ingenuity of your wasp catcher. I hope to make one tomorrow.
    Blessings, Kathleen

  6. Can you feed those little beasties to your chickens?

  7. Them yellow jackets (wasps,hornets) can be dangerous especially if they build near your house and children are likely to encounter their nest. Each nest can contain thousands. I don't mess around when it comes to this so we exterminate the nest if it's near our house. (There are fogging devices for ones that build in the walls of your house). We buy something called Talstar at our local Farm supply store. You use a small amount mixed with a gallon of water and pour in a ground nest after dark. Done. I'm not big on chemicals but sometimes it's necessary. Once we erradicate the nests in our yard we can enjoy being outside again alot more. If there's a bald face hornet nest near the house on a low branch, we use a can of Raid for bees, but do it at night! The home-made traps do sound like a nice way to help keep them at bay while you pic-nic or camp.

  8. Does the trap get bees, too? I have bee hives and have noticed yellow Jackets around! I want the bees, but not the yellow jackets!


    1. My Dad was a beekeeper and hated the Yellow Jackets. They could cause severe damage to a hive of bees. He came up with a simple way to trap them without catching the honey bees. He would simply take a quart jar and fill it half way up with sugar water or a little honey mixed with water. He would take the lid and drill holes in it just big enough to allow the yellow jackets through but not the larger honey bees. The yellow jackets would make their way through and drown. He had to periodically empty and refill the jars but after a while the population of the yellow jackets would noticeably drop. It would be easier to kill the whole nest at once but if you can’t find it this way will also work.

  9. As I was reading through the comments on this post, my cell phone vibrated and rang right behind my head and nearly gave me a heart attack. The buzzing of the phone, I mean. I could've sworn it was a gigantic Japanese hornet coming to eat my brains... (we're currently stationed in Japan) Well, no, it was just my husband calling.

    At least I know how to handle them when I return to the states! Thanks bunches!

  10. Baldfaces will do the same to God's greatest little creatures, the honeybees. I will go far out of my way to destroy Baldface nests.