Ask a Question forum: territorial bees?

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Name: Kim Moss Mill Design Conover
southern New Jersey- Mid-Atlan (Zone 6b)
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MossMillDesign
Aug 9, 2017 7:25 PM CST
I have only had raspberry bushes/canes(?) for 3 years. This is the first year my plants have been loaded with berries, though, last year wasn't bad overall. We have a small farm so I'm used to honey bees & little-ish bumblebees around flowering plants. I don't feel comfortable around them but I'm o.k.....my raspberries are really revving up and starting to ripen. The only problem is that they are swarming with bees. Big ones, little ones- but worst of all- some really agressive bees! They fly right at me- buzzing right near my face and even bumping me. I'm done! If this is what it's going to be like- they can have them! I've only been able to pick 3 or 4 berries until they run me off. I had one that literally chased me outside of the fence- 100ft from the raspberries. I wear black or white when I pick because other colors make it much worse. I live in southern New Jersey- about 15 miles inland. Do you have any suggestions for calming them down long enough to get my berries picked? I didn't have this issue with the blackberries. Is this normal bee behavior?
Name: Lauri
N Central Wash. - the dry side (Zone 5b)
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lauribob
Aug 9, 2017 8:05 PM CST
Are they all the same kind of bee that has the attitude? There might be a nest in your berries somewhere that you need to avoid.
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Aug 9, 2017 8:32 PM CST
See if you can locate a local apiarist. They are pretty knowledgable when it comes to dealing with bees and might give you some pointers. As @lauribob mentioned, you may have a nest in or near your berry patch. Bumblebees nest underground and you may have disturbed their nest.

BTW, Welcome to NGA.
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[Last edited by McCannon - Aug 9, 2017 8:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Aug 9, 2017 9:09 PM CST
Are they for-sure bees and not wasps/hornets?

There are some strains of honeybees that are pretty aggressive... I agree with the suggestion to consult a local apiarist. I also think the idea of there being a nest nearby is pretty logical, because usually bees and even wasps aren't nearly as aggressive when they are at some distance from their nest as when the nest is close.
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Aug 9, 2017 9:23 PM CST
We have bees in our garden and in our blackberry patch. None of them are aggressive or bother us when we're in the area. The "little-ish bumblebees" that the OP mentioned might be Mason bees. I don't believe they're particularly aggressive, and the NJ location is too far north for Africanised honey bees.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Kim Moss Mill Design Conover
southern New Jersey- Mid-Atlan (Zone 6b)
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MossMillDesign
Aug 9, 2017 10:30 PM CST
Thank you, all for your knowledge and quick reply.
I hadn't thought of a nest though I see the holes and can sometimes hear them elsewhere on the property. The field where we grow was woods just 5 years ago and we have certainly come across a few ground nests over the years- unintentionally disturbing them
The very aggressive bees look very bee-like - yellow and black stripes and slightly larger than a bumble bee- though it's hard to get a good look when you're running to safety. Ha! They look nothing like the wide variety of wasps and hornets we have here. The smaller bees don't bother me, and more often than not, stay clear of me.
My husband thinks that the African bee has reached our area, according to the old timers that have farms nearby. When my husband mentioned the agressive behavior and described the bees to them, he was told they were African bees.
He may be running the sawmill or working on one of the tractors and they love to just fly at top speed and ram into him. He's a lot more tolerant than I but he sometimes has to stand there and hit them with the hose before they leave him alone.
There are two farms in our area I know that keep an array of bee hives. I can use the "next door neighbor" app to reach out and ask for help. Should've thought of that sooner. Thank you, again, for your help. It's good to have a sounding board to help get my brain working in the right direction.
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
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daylilydreams
Aug 9, 2017 10:42 PM CST
Sounds like they may be yellow jackets they resemble bees around here they are aggressive if you disturb them. Here is information on them.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Aug 9, 2017 10:50 PM CST
I don't believe the Africanised honey bees are anywhere near NJ. But you can check with your local beekeepers, as that would be a concern for them. They are probably familiar with other bees in your area too. If you come up with answers for your situation, please post back here to let us know.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Aug 9, 2017 10:56 PM CST
@daylilydreams, Betty, I've had more than my share of encounters with yellow jackets. They will sting without provocation. But the OP mentioned what they observed were larger than bumblebees, which probably rules out the yellow jackets.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
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Zencat
Aug 10, 2017 6:52 AM CST
I'm going to watch this thread because I'm curious about which bee this is. I've seen the bumping thing between mason and leafcutter bees. I can't remember which did it but one of them would be on a flower and the other would bump it off. Fly in, bump it, then take its place. Sometimes it did it 2 or 3 times before the other got the hint it was time to move on. Hilarious!
Name: Archivesgirl
Salisbury, MD (Zone 7b)
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Archivesgirl
Aug 10, 2017 7:31 AM CST
Welcome! Kim, what a nuisance around all your raspberries. I can suggest some other sites you might ask questions such as:

https://www.facebook.com/group...

http://www.njbeekeepers.org/in...

They should be able to help you.

Best of luck with getting things cleared up.

Gayle
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Aug 10, 2017 9:36 AM CST
Kim, is there any chance you could post a photo of one of the bees? It would probably be helpful for identification, even if it isn't ultra clear (I know how hard they can be to get a good shot of!)

Bees don't have to be africanized to be aggressive, though; years ago my ex and I had 10 hives of bees, one of which was a wild swarm that we caught on our property, assuming it came from one of our own hives. Nine of the hives were very docile and easy to work around, you could take the top off the hive, check the frames, and so on without putting on all the "bee gear" and not worry about more than an occasional random sting. That 10th hive, though, was terribly aggressive and would be attacking if we so much as lifted a corner of the top. Shrug!

In our present yard we have a lot of smallish, black ground bees -- they make holes in the ground that we at first mistook for anthills, and there are LOTS of them. They're totally non-aggressive and have become one of our best pollinators, they're constantly working in the flowers. Thumbs up
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 10, 2017 9:49 AM CST
We have bees here that will chase and sting if one gets too close to their nest, which is often a hole in the ground. They're definitely bees and not wasps. I've never had a problem with them other than when I was inadvertently weeding too near the nest. On one occasion it was like a large bumble bee, but this year's encounter looked like a smaller bumble bee. I didn't hang around long enough to try and ID them after they stung me Hilarious! I've also been stung (again weeding too near a nest I didn't know was there) by those small ground dwelling bees.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Aug 10, 2017 10:30 AM CST
From the description yellow and black...not bees. Maybe wasps or hornets.

Either way, contact a pest control in your local area. They can identify the "bees" and advise the best way to remove them.

If you don't want to go that route, at least set some traps.

If you do not already own a beekeepers suit and head protection, you may want to make the investment to be safe - and don't forget to wear the gloves also. Gotta protect yourself and your family until you get this situation under control.
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Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Aug 10, 2017 11:15 AM CST
Maybe you could try to pick at dusk/ night.

My mom would never let the grandkids anywhere near the raspberries and blackberries. The wasps and bees vigorously defend them. Even if you get rid of the nest, new ones will quickly take their place. How they get such good cell service and reception in the middle of a field, I'll never know. Big Grin Sometimes you have to see the whole berry so your hand does not get (edit stung). The only way she fixed the continual problem was to stop growing them. Sad

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[Last edited by Altheabyanothername - Aug 10, 2017 4:01 PM (+)]
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