Thursday, September 1, 2011

BEE, WASP, HORNET... IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

I was reading a blog recently where the author posted a picture of a wasp and called it a bee which is the reason for this post.

I'm not blogging to make fun of anyone who confuses a bee with a wasp. Actually, I didn't even know there was a difference until I took a class with my daughter at our local nature center back in 1998. Up until then, anything that was black and yellow with a stinger was a bee to me. We took the class because I had a major phobia of bees but the nature center taught us that not all stinging insects are created equal nor are they all bees.

This is purely an educational post. Hopefully it will help people identify these insects when they come in contact with them and help them be less fearful of bees.

I will cover the ones most commonly seen in Minnesota. Other states may have different types of wasps or bees, I'm not sure.

THE WASP GROUP

Benefits: Wasps eat all kinds of insects and are great to have in the garden because they often eat the insects that are harmful to your fruits and vegetables.

Temperament: Paper Wasps tend not to be too aggressive unless their nests are disturbed. Yellowjackets get defensive if their hives are disturbed, when they are around food, or during certain parts of the season when food is scarce. Hornets are aggressive when nests are disturbed.

Body: Have a slender body, narrow waste, appear shiny with smooth skin. Slender, cylindrical legs. Wasps are the stinging insects most commonly encountered by people.

Food: Wasps are predators. They eat other insects. They will eat fruit juices as well. Hornets will forage for nectar.

Nests: Yellowjackets, baldfaced hornets, and paper wasps make nests from a papery pulp comprised of chewed-up wood fibers mixed with saliva. Yellowjackets commonly build nests underground and paper wasps will build there nests from overhangs such as a tree limb.

Hornets Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Peregrine Audubon

Yellowjacket Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Local Pest Control

Paper Wasp Nest looks like this:



courtesy of Ace Bees

What do they look like?

The Yellow Jacket



courtesty of The Bee Hunter

The Paper Wasp



courtesy of Snails Tales

The Hornet



courtesy of FCPS

THE BEE GROUP

Benefits: POLLINATION!!

Temperament: Honeybees are docile unless hive is disturbed. When out foraging they rarely sting. Mason bees will not sting unless strongly provoked. Bumble bees are defensive of their hive but more docile when out foraging unless stepped on or squeezed.

Body: Bees have robust bodies and are very hairy. Hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen.

Food: Bees feed on pollen & nectar from flowers.

Nests: Honey bees make a series of vertical honey combs made of wax. Their colonies are mostly in manufactured hives but they do occasionally nest in cavities in large trees, voids in building walls, or other protected areas.



Courtesy of bees on the net

Bumble bees use old mice burrows, cavities in buildings, and other locations to make their nests. Like honey bees, bumble bees make cells of wax.



Courtesy of Extermatrim

Mason bees (The female) uses existing holes in wood for a nest, the whole will be slightly larger than her body (1/8 of inch) and she puts a mud plug in one of the hole.



Courtesy of Help Save the Bees

What they look like?

Honey Bee



courtesy of NC Pedia

Mason Bee



courtesy of Gig Harbor

Bumble Bee



courtesy of Organic Garden Info.

Much of the information listed above came from the University of Minnesota.

THE CANNING EXPERIMENT, PLUS!

I haven't found much time to blog lately but I hate just leaving the place to gather dust so I thought I'd post a quick one. I've been pondering the idea of deleting the blog again. The reason being, I think if I have to struggle to organize time so that I can get on here and write something then maybe it just isn't something I'm passionate about anymore. The only thing that keeps me coming back to the blogs is other people's writing. I like reading what others are up to on their blogs plus the connections I've made and honestly, right now, that is the only thing that has kept me from closing the blog. Blogging for almost 5 yrs has made for some great friendships :)

With that said... I'm just not sure, so...

I've been trying to focus on quite a few things recently. #1 Writing More. #2 Country Home Hunting. #3 Preparing for said life in the country (canning, knitting, gardening, etc...) and #4 reading more books.

#1 Writing
Well, I never talked about my writing so I won't start now.

#2 The House Hunting
Not going as well as I expected. My hubby and I are planning an "eventual" move north and thought now would be the perfect time to buy a home, with the market being what it is. Turns out, the people up north haven't noticed the down turn in the market yet. Actually, it isn't really the people up north, it is the people here in the cities that own the homes up north that we went to look up. I can't say I blame them though. If we had to sell our home right now I certainly wouldn't want to take a loss on it. The market is scary and after all the work we've done on our own home it would be heartbreaking just to sell if for pennies. So we are waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself so we can have our life in the country that we always dreamed of.

#3 Preparing for the Country Life
Years ago when I told my mother I wanted to be a farmer (I was a child), she would laugh. Not a rude laugh, my mother was never rude, she would giggle and remind me that farmers would wake up at 5 a.m. and I couldn't manage to crawl out of bed before noon. Ok, not quite that late but you get my point. When I got older and managed to drag myself out of bed when the birds began to sing my mother rained on my parade once again by informing me that country life was much different than city life (she grew up like Laura Ingles so she knew what she was talking about). I knew country life was different but it took my purchasing the "Countryside Magazine" to figure out just how different it was. Canning foods for long winters was the first thing that caught my attention. I would talk about canning, read about canning, think about canning, but didn't get the courage to actually CAN until last year. The reason being, because no matter how much I learned about canning I could never shake all the horror stories I heard as a kid. My grandmother passed on a story about how a pressure cooker blew up in someones face and then of course there were the stories drifting around about getting botulism from improperly preserved foods. YIKES! So last year I canned my first batch of strawberry jam and after about a month I tossed it all out because I was too afraid to try it. How is that for neurotic.Well, I decided to try again. This year I thought I'd attempt dill pickles. I planted my garden, got a great bunch of cucumbers. The dill was ready long before the cucumbers so I ended up buying the dill at the store. Found a "how to video" online (I'm a visual learner) and gave it a shot.

My harvest:



Of course, it didn't go so well.

I THOUGHT I had the right size pan for the size jars I was using. Turned out I was wrong. Ya see, there is a label on the pan that states what size jars it fits and you'd think I would read that but nooooooo, that would have been way too easy. Instead I just guessed and my guess turned out to be wrong. After canning several jars of dill pickles I had no pan to place them in. I made a mad dash to a local store but they didn't have a large enough pan either. It was already late in the evening and everywhere else was closed. The dill pickles were trashed. So I tried again.

Got the right pan this time:

And made some pickles:


I've since learned again that I didn't do them exactly right but I'm getting closer to perfection. I will open these in 6 weeks and see how they turned out.

#4 Reading More Books

Right now I'm reading two books. Alternating back and forth, which my kids think is weird but I like it. "On Writing" by Stephen King. I read it when it was first published and here I am reading it again. The other book I'm reading was a title suggested to me. I'm actually enjoying it, which is a surprise because I'm not a big fan of fiction. (which you are now probably scratching your head at considering I'm reading ANYTHING by Stephen King). The book is called Miss Peregrines Home of Peculiar Children. It isn't even adult fiction, it came from the teen section, but when two adults suggest it, why not, right?

So that is what keeps my mind busy right now. Along with the bees, which are doing well. The bunnies, one of which is really really sick and probably won't make it. The children, getting ready to return to school next week and quite a few other things in between but I won't bore you any further with the details.

Before I sign off I want to say thank you to DixieBelle over at Eat at Dixie Belles for her generous blog award. I promise to post about that one soon. I'm compiling a list of bloggers to share it with :)