BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - People all across WNY are complaining about what they think are large numbers of bees swarming around. Experts say what most people are chasing are actually yellow jacket wasps - which this year are much larger in number because of mild winters that have not killed them off.
Confusion arises because both bees and yellow jackets are yellow and black in color. Bees have a fussy look while yellow jackets are brighter in color with yellow legs.
As warm winters help the yellow jacket population grow, a combination of excessive pesticide use and mild winters is causing honey bee populations to decline sharply. In New York State, 48% of managed bee colonies died during the past winter. "That is not a sustainable number," said Mike Masterson, a beekeeper and owner of Masterson's Garden Center in East Aurora. Beekeepers say warmer winter weather prevents the bees from properly hibernating.
Yellow jackets can be aggressive and sting multiple times. Honey bees tend to ignore people and only sting once if the hive is threatened.
Both honey bees and yellow jackets wasps will secrete scents when they do sting as a signal for others to join the attack. That's why it is best to move away quickly if a bee or yellow jacket stings you.
It is also very important to not kill honey bees because their dwindling numbers are a worldwide concern. Yellow jackets can be killed because they are a nuisance pest.
You can purchase wasp traps or make you own. The following is a link we found online using pop bottles to make a yellow jacket wasp traps: https://www.hunker.com/13418817/homemade-yellow-jacket-trap
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his reports.