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Soil and Composting: Bees started hive in my compost bin! Can they be removed?

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BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 12, 2012
11:21 AM

Post #9039651

Hi, I'm new to Dave's Garden. I live in central Massachusetts where we have had an unusually mild winter.

It's up in the 60's the past couple of days and bees are swarming all over my compost bin. Not that I dislike the bees, I'd love to move them to a new hive spot more convenient for me. Can they be moved safely? Does anyone have experience with this?

Was there something I put in my bin that may have attracted them? I just do the usual, kitchen waste of veggies, fruits, coffee grounds, brown paper, and the yard waste -- grass, leaves, wood chips.

Would love any advice. Thanks! Barbara

Thumbnail by BrrrAnn   Thumbnail by BrrrAnn
Click an image for an enlarged view.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 13, 2012
11:35 AM

Post #9041216

Barbara - I used to be a "bee keeper" so perhaps I can help...

It's unlikely that these bees are looking to take up residents in your compost bin, unless there is a gap inside that looks "inviting" to them.

Most likely you have placed something "sweet" into the bin such as honey, sugar, or molasses.

If you have very recently pulled plants loaded with flowers, this could attract them. As soon as the flowers dry (die) the bees will lose interest.

Have I covered all the possibilities? If not, let me know what "other" stuff is in the bin.
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 13, 2012
3:39 PM

Post #9041502

Hmmm. I hope that's the answer. I do put cut flowers in there, but I haven't for a while. I don't generally put sugar, honey or molasses, although I do put in fruit rinds. I put in some moldy strawberries and blueberries the other day.

I've seen the bees before, on another day in the 60's last month, then they seemed to go away. I thought maybe they were hibernating? I've turned the pile in the bin as recently as three weeks ago and there were no bees then. Someone else suggested that maybe they were looking for water or minerals.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 14, 2012
10:21 AM

Post #9042512

BrrrAnn - if there is a creek, stream, bird bath, swimming pool, etc., nearby they will get water from those sources.

Something else has come to mind... They might be collecting something from your pile to use as propolis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propolis

I don't ever remember anything about honeybees collecting minerals.

Honeybees only fly on warm days (above 60) so that is possibly why you haven't seen them for awhile.

Honeybees are not dangerous unless you go near their hive.

IF and I say again IF they have started to use your compost as a hive - please call a professional to remove them!
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 16, 2012
5:04 PM

Post #9045355

Thanks so much for your feedback. I sure hope they're just visiting!

I live right next to a stream, so they can't be looking for water. In the last two days, temps have dipped back down again and no bees flying around the bin. I added more material to the compost bin and didn't see any bees at all. I'll let you know if they turn up again in the warm weather.

Barbara

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 17, 2012
1:32 PM

Post #9046237

Thanks for the update, Barbara.

Hopefully the honeybees will not return once the weather warms again. Let me know if they come back.

pbyrley

pbyrley
Port St Lucie (+ Wk , FL
(Zone 9b)

March 19, 2012
5:25 AM

Post #9048284

Is it possible that the insects are another kind of bee - not honeybees? When I was reading up on blue mason bees, I believe I it said there were well over a thousand species of bees. Most are solitary (no hive) like the blue mason bee.

Also, if these are yellow jackets, figure out some way to get them out (other than poisoning, of course) because their sting is very painful (first hand info).

Good luck,

Paul

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 19, 2012
5:33 AM

Post #9048288

Those don't look like yellow jackets to me. I have also had some type of bees in my Earth Machine (same type of bin) once.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 19, 2012
8:48 AM

Post #9048613

pbyrley - The bees in Barbara's photo are definitely honeybees.

(I used to keep honeybees)
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 19, 2012
9:55 AM

Post #9048743

Well, whatever kind of bees they are, they stopped coming once I dumped a lot of shredded leaves in the bin.

pbyrley

pbyrley
Port St Lucie (+ Wk , FL
(Zone 9b)

March 22, 2012
6:21 PM

Post #9053336

HoneybeeNC,
Yeah, I looked at the photo again and I thought they were honeybees too. I know you had hives and know much more than I do about bees. BTW I am having a lot of honeybees visit my blueberry flowers this year, possibly because of the early bloom. I'm glad to see them back, last year it was mostly bumblebee types.

In Huntersville, I had some kind of in-the-ground bees (def. not yellow jackets) every year. They never attacked me or my dog, but I didn't push my luck. The came out every morning and "went to work" I never saw them coming home.

I'm very glad BrrrAnn's bees stopped coming.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 23, 2012
9:38 AM

Post #9053968

pbyrley - honeybees, bumble bees, native bees - they're all good for pollination.

Honeybees NEVER nest in the ground. I don't know enough about native bees to say whether or not they nest in the ground, but I think bumble bees nest in, or close, to the ground.

We've had severl bumble bees come and go through our house this past week. Most people would be scared to death, but we just collect them in a jar and return them to the garden.

I'm glad you are having honeybees visiting your garden. There must be a hive close by. I'd love to have a hive or two, but I'm too old/frail to lift the hive boxes (called supers.)
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 24, 2012
6:15 PM

Post #9055726

Now I have yellow jackets trying to nest in my garage! :)

Yoiks.

This message was edited Mar 24, 2012 8:15 PM

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 25, 2012
8:05 AM

Post #9056262

BrrrAnn - although yellow jackets are beneficial insects, you do not need them too near where you come and go.

I think there is a hornet spray that will kill them. Don't let their numbers get too large, they have nasty tempers and, unlike honeybees that can only sting once, yellow jackets can sting repeatedly.

pbyrley

pbyrley
Port St Lucie (+ Wk , FL
(Zone 9b)

March 26, 2012
5:56 AM

Post #9057246

BrrrAnn,
Yes, as HoneybeeNC said, there is a specific spray that is more of a stream - ask for help at the garden store in finding the right one. The other trick is to go to the hole AT NIGHT. They will all be home, resting. Spray "as directed" I think I used about half the can. None were able to come out that night, maybe I killed them in their sleep. (I had a young Labrador Retriever at that time and she was very curious - I was really afraid that she would sniff around and get badly stung).

The spraying was 100% effective. None ever came or went into the hole again.

Paul

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2012
10:26 AM

Post #9057669

Yes, Paul, that's a great idea!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 27, 2012
5:44 AM

Post #9058803

I too cannot tolerate yellow jackets near the house or people. I feel bad, but not as bad as when my kid gets stung!. We've had to spray holes several times, right around our sidewalk or foundation. (One good dose of spray, different holes in different years) If you ever notice one yellow jacket near the ground, step back and watch carefully, and you will probably see a stream of them going in and out at active times of day. Then see the hole.
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

March 27, 2012
12:27 PM

Post #9059312

Now that we have a cold snap, I can spray fearlessly!

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