We have helped our neighbor over the years by pruning her overgrown Asian pear tree, and by picking up the fruit that drops throughout the summer months. Recently she did some of this work herself, and put fifty or so pears into a plastic bag and left it under the tree for a week or two. After a while Mr. Glad couldn’t stand it, and he tried to put the whole lot into the trash, but he found it also contained scads of bees, one of which stung him.
[Correction years later: Those probably were not bees, but syrphid flies; I can’t see any of the images clearly enough to know, this much removed from the event. I didn’t know about syrphids at the time, and even after learning how flies differ from bees, I get them mixed up. But this article has some good information still, so I will leave it up. And maybe it is not a yellow jacket, either, but it is a wasp.]
I saw one of those fruits on the sidewalk with 60% of the inside gone, in the process of being excavated by six honeybees. I was so surprised — I didn’t know they would eat fruit. Another day I took pictures of some of the pears lying on the grass, full of bees, and wasps too.
|yellow-jacket wasp on left|
The few wasps were spending as much time acting aggressively toward the bees as they were drinking pear juice, trying to be king of the mountain. I thought of what I’d read from The Bee Lady, who recently instructed us about the difference in species. She also let us in on the fact that yellow jackets are carnivores, and they will eat bees. I think that is horrid – as if bees didn’t have enough problems already.
Wasps aren’t bees. Pest removal companies perpetuate the confusion by saying they do “bee removal” when they are talking about both insects. Why can’t they say “Bee and Wasp Removal”? This one has a good chart showing many wasps and bees, even though the company name is not entomologically precise.
To be fair, even wasps do serve a purpose on the earth, as this page points out. I read that one kind of wasp eats black widows, for which I’m sure I must thank the Lord.
|wasp and bee getting along in Australia by C. Frank Starmer via Creative Commons|
I liked this page, too, that delineates some differences between bumblebees and honeybees. Ants, wasps and bees are related species, but they are different species. I am with The Bee Lady on this one — bees should not have to bear the reproach of their cousins.
Ever since I reviewed all those pictures of the blessing of bees and honey, while telling about the Feast of Transfiguration, my love for bees has grown as has my wonderment at honey and the miracle of it all. I’m even eating more honey, such a beautiful food. Wasps haven’t a clue how to make it.