The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – November 2019

- November 1, 2019 - (excerpt)

frames of bees
Don’t spare the yellow jackets

To Alison McAfee,

I enjoyed your article on yellow jackets in the September ABJ issue. As always your articles are precise and spot on.

Sorry but I have to add something here that everyone always misses when it comes to our not so friendly pest the yellow jacket.

You said in your article towards the end that “killing as many wasps as we can might not be the best idea.” I have to disagree.

I do agree they do prey on agricultural pests: The point here is they also prey on our many good insects that are needed to help keep down the numbers of the bad insects. They throw off the balance of our good

So my point is when the yellow jacket populations are out of control and besides losing great numbers of our honey bees we lose our good, very much needed insects so we can continue organic farming. Without these, the average gardener and farmer reaches for the poisons because the good bugs are not here any more, and we all know what happens when we all start using more deadly poisons.

Thank you for listening and taking time to read this message,

Look forward to your next article!


Ray Juhasz

Bee Mentor for OSU



Ali responds:

Hello Raymond,

Thanks for the email. You have a good point, there, and I appreciate the correction! Yellow jacket wasps are listed on the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture’s list of beneficial insects, as well as similar documents for some states, but it looks like this might be the exception rather than the norm. Consensus seems to be that parasitoid wasps, rather than predatory wasps like yellow jackets, are beneficial for agriculture, presumably because they tend to parasitize pesky caterpillars over other insects.

You are right that yellow jacket wasps prey on pollinators (honey bees or otherwise) and even other predators (spiders) in addition to the pests when they’re out roaming the fields, and this incurs an additional cost to having them around. What I am not sure about is if this cost outweighs the benefit of helping to control the pest insect populations (forgetting, momentarily, about the damage they do to our colonies in the fall – that cost surely tips the scale). Anyway, it looks like my reach to find something good about the wasps has flopped. And I’m ok with that.


Give us this day our daily bee bread

Some may say that you should be careful what you pray for. Bees sting.


Jeff Zylstra

Ontario, Canada,

 where I live with my wife Denise

and my 4 boys Chris, Darren, Calvin

 and James. They all hate

bee stings but all lov