Tuesday, November 10, 2020

End of the Season

It was an exciting series of events this Fall - the catching of some hornets, the tracking of them, and the eventual destruction of a colony!  What a great story.

In my reading, the most accurate news report on this came surprisingly from my mother-in-law in Tacoma, who mailed me a clipped article from the Tacoma News Tribune (not the first she's sent me on this topic), which excelled I thought in it's accuracy, compared, for example, to the Seattle Times, of NYT. Kudos to them.

Having spent so much time in making traps- I'll admit- I was happy they were caught, but a little disappointed that these weren't the traps that did it. Plastic traps beat wooden traps. Still- I see that as more a lack of hornet population pressure- the found colony was small in population, and a bee hive wasn't necessary for it's survival. 

Should a few unfound colonies survive the winter, which seems likely,  numbers will increase in the coming year, and I would think hive traps could still prove useful. So I'm keeping the site up, and ready to build more if needed.

Last weekend the Fraser river valley started blowing south- and temperatures dropped dramatically. I live 100 miles away, and I put a coat on just to get the paper, it's that cold- so cold I don't let the cat out at night. 

Yet even so- and  though its now raining and cold- I see that a few of my hives are getting seriously attacked by yellow jackets.  One in particular- which I thought was a strong one- has a constant attack going on. 

What happens I think- is that when it gets cold, the bee cluster contracts, and the guard bees pull off from their duties and leave the entrances unguarded. So wasps easily find their way in, and are unchallenged. With top entry hives, this is less so (as bees are up there already where it is warmer), but if there is still a lower entry, it's an easy avenue for attack. Wasps are smart- they figure out by constant probing and moving about where the weak points are, and take advantage of any weakness. That they can't communicate this to other wasps is incomprehensible to me- they rapidly learn as a group where a route "in" is, no matter how convoluted. Some sort of communication must be happening.

What's striking to me in this, is that is is a.) cold, b.) raining, and c.) really late in the year (are they really still raising queen brood this late? How do they get mated?). 

If the AGH is anything similar- and one would think due to it's large size and increased metabolism that the cold would not be as limiting- then I could see that any remaining AGH colonies might very well be still active in Whatcom county. And possibly this year's drama is not yet over.

Hoping it is- but won't be surprised if there is a few hornet sightings left to come.

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