Raspberries and bees!!!!!!

mary_lu_gwAugust 16, 2005

Just found this forum....usually am on the flower forums.

I have a bed of Heritage raspberries and this is their 3rd year. They are loaded with berries and are starting to ripen. But they are loaded with what must be 100s of bumble bees too! I feel like I am taking my life in my hands when I have picked a few ripe berries.

Does anyone els have this problem? Is this normal? I don't remember this happening last year.

Mary Lu

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Mary Lu:

I don't have that particular problem, but insects do different things every year, and in different numbers. The bumblebees may be working on the flowers still forming on your raspberries. Certainly, they will do the raspberries no damage. Bumblebees are non-agressive, gentle creatures, and about the only way to be stung by one is to step on it with bare feet. You can work right next to them, and even touch them with your hand, and they won't bother you at all.

I realize that many people have an instinctive fear of bees, and there are some aggressive bees such as the africanized honeybees that have shown up in the southwest. But on raspberries, an invasion of bumblebees is sure a lot better than an invasion of japanese beetles.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 8:48PM
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We have many bumblebees on our raspberries also. So far, I haven't been stung, but it is a bit disconcerting to have so many nearby. The main thing, is to check out those berries for ants before popping them in your mouth. Ants don't taste so good...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:12PM
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Eric...how did you know what I was doing? Were you peeking over my shoulder? They tasted great, so must not have been any ants. LOL!

The berries are just loaded this year. In a few weeks I will be making lots of jam for the grandkids.

All kidding aside, so far I have seen no aggression, but as you say it is disconcerting.

Mary Lu

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:29PM
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Likewise, we have lots of bumblebees working the flowers on my summits. They are, as Don suggests, very mild tempered and go about their business. Other insects also work the raspberry patch, including some sort of wasp; I give them considerably more room.

The bumblebees here, this time of year, are not the big B-17 bombers that work the fruit trees earlier. More like a B-25 medium bomber. Pretty colored--yellow and rust, very fuzzy. I've really come to enjoy having them around.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:36PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

This must be a good year for bumblebees. I see them "working" the aptinia (ground cover, called "Apple"), along with my own Italian bees, which I have hived in my back yard.

Normally, my own bees are quite docile, but for some reason, I have been stung twice by my own bees - while working near the compost pile. I am assuming, either they are interested in my sweating (sting same place - near hat band), or they like my perfumed soap, (mixed with sweating).

Some folks can react severely to bee stings - so use caution. I would not wear heavy perfumes - especially behind the ears, as bees will get caught in the hair - then most probably sting.

Bumblebees are much less aggressive, but sometimes provoke "in resident" bees in their foraging habits.

Just my 2 c's.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:57AM
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well_rooted(5, BC Canada)

Ugh, this brings back memories.

Many years ago I picked a raspberry and popped it in my mouth. It had a wasp on it. Course I didn't know that. It stung me on the inside of my cheek.

Then a few weeks ago I braved the wasps and hornets that were devouring my raspberries. I was once again popping the delicious morsels in my mouth and thought I was carefully watching for wasps/hornets. Ha ha, no such luck! This time I was stung on the underside of my upper lip. The beastie left its stinger in and it was a couple of minutes before I could remove it. My lip swelled to an enormous size!!!! Took more than 48 hrs to return to normal so that I could go out in public. I have since read that it helps to get the stinger out within 15 seconds....

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 8:12PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

well-rooted -

Whereas, I've been stung a few times - with only minimal symptoms (become a bit shocky - lowers blood pressure).

Most honey bees will not attack deliberately unless the hive is entered - then it is best to be wearing a smoker and veil. The smoke used by bee keepers - puffed into the hive just prior to opening, prompts the bees to eat lots of their honey. For an unknown reason, that will make them more docile and easier to work with. (the old "happier on a full stomach" reasoning).

When removing a stinger, scrape it off, rather than pulling straight out, otherwise, it can trigger the barbs, which will release more venom.

Also - avoid heavy perfumes around bees, especially worn behind the ears - they are attracted to it, and if caught in the hair, it might agitate them into stinging.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 9:01AM
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The delema I have is not with the bumblebees but the yellow jackets which eat portions of the ripening fruit. And it isn't overipe fruit only as one might expect. I've noticed bees foraging on berries that are nearly ripe. I have overripe yellow transparent apples on the ground within 100 feet and they are also loaded with the yellow jackets. It is amazing the amount of the berry (or apple) that they either eat or chew away. They are also the first insects to return after a spray has been applied.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 10:39AM
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If you can find the yellow jacket ground nest, you might be able to stick a water hose in there and drive them out. But its a risky business. They tend to be quiet in the evening, so that would be the safest time to apply the water.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 12:14PM
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Bumblebees are wonderful for your raspberries. Count your blessings! I have found bumblebees to be completely safe to work around. I've never been stung by one. You can walk right up and touch one and it will either ignore you or just buzz off. I suppose you could step on one or get one trapped under your shirt sleeve or some other accident, but it ain't even worth worrying about.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 1:27PM
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The best way to get over your fear of the bumblebees is to keep right on doing your work while they're doing theirs. The more you and them get together, the more accustomed and less worried you will become. All too soon they will be gone and you will miss your fuzzy little buddies.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 1:55PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Thank your lucky stars for Bumble Bees. What with the shortage of Honeybees because of the Honeybee problems, Bumble bees are your best friends to pollinate fruit. They are very docile, as others have stated.

I used to grow lots if vining string beans and the bumbles loved the flowers. The vines were a thick tangle and to pick the beans, you had to stick your hands in there and lift leaves and just look everywhere. The bumble bees would be happily working the flowers right were I picked and there were never any problems. They ignore you.

The only time I was ever stung was when I foolishly went in barefoot and stepped on a bumble bee.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 1:10PM
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Violet_Skies_(5b S.Central WI)

I love my bumblers on my raspberries...don't know if I am brave enough to pet one, but they definitely could not care less if I am nearby, they are far too busy. :-)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 6:52PM
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Last year my raspberry crop was decimated by what I thought were bees but now think they were some kind of hornet or yellowjacket. How can I deal with this if it happens again. Last year was the first time I have had anything but the docile honey bee.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 5:50PM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

I'm sure someone will claim animal abuse here, but I learned when I was young that although I don't get along with other bees well, bumble bees are so docile, (as violet_skies suggested) you can actually pet them gently and they don't mind. I've probably done it 20 times in my life, and they don't even seem to notice. Ok, go call PETA now. :-) I've also found Wood bees (just watched me as I filled in the wood in my rafters where they made their home), and Cicida Wasps (just fly around my legs in my beach volleyball court) to be very even tempered as well. As for the honeybees and especially most wasps & hornets, they usually wind up stinging me. :-( -Glenn

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 10:25PM
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last year honey bees pollenated my golden raspberries & came back to draw on the berries just as they began to ripen. They were not even ripe enough to pick ! I keep a large amount of clover w/lawn which some 250 bees can bee see at any given time. Iam on the bees side here, can I put out sugar water or do I have to net the canes to get ripe berries to the table ?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:55PM
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