Facts about New Jersey Bees
by Andrea D’Souza
Albert Einstein said, ” If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.” He was speaking about the symbiotic relationship of the vastly interconnected ecosystem, where each element plays a dependent role on many other elements. When any part of the global body suffers, so does the whole body.
It is human nature to get a little jumpy when one hears the telltale buzz and sees the bee flying closer — but treat bees with respect. They are critically important to making things bloom. In a state whose nickname is “Garden,” we should be especially sensitive. The negative buzz on bees is all too misplaced. Here are some need-to-know facts on New Jersey’s bees.
New Jersey is host to three main varieties of bees: the honeybee, the bumblebee, and the carpenter bee.
Honeybees are one of the state’s most vital resources. They are smaller, brownish- yellow colonists that truly live up to the phrase, “busy as a bee.” These hard-workers are credited with pollinating much of the nearly $2.5 million fruit and vegetable industry in the Garden State alone. Honeybees can sting only once with their barbed stinger, but the most damage they inflict comes from hives built close to homes, where honey can drip down walls. Honeybees are a protected species, so call experts to remove their hives safely.
Bumblebees are larger, stubbier and bright yellow and black. They are good pollinators, but are more aggressive than honeybees, in fact some have been known to chase intruders for long distances once their nest is disturbed. Their smooth stingers allow them to sting more than once, leaving a very painful and irritated spot that can last for days. Their nests are often underground (like wasps) and are detectable most easily by the loud buzzing. Due to their aggressive nature, nest removal is best left to a professional.
Carpenter bees are solitary nesters and are the real threat to homeowners. The males don’t have stingers but will aggressively dive bomb any threat. Females have stingers but are relatively docile. The most damage carpenter bees do is to your home, where they burrow their nests into the wood. The nest is chewed out by the female and can be up to 10 feet long with multiple chambers! Removal can be difficult and damage to structures can be severe.
Bee venom can be painful and life threatening for anyone who’s allergic. But the critical value of bees far outweighs any danger so let them do their work, as peacefully as possible. Bees are insects of curiosity, but they really only attack when threatened. The next time you see a bee come your way just ignore it and you won’t get stung.
The Need to Know Home Remedies for Bites, Stings and Removal
The stinger stings, literally. Anyone who’s been stung, knows the sharp, intense pain and burning and the hot swollen area that follows. With summer comes bugs, and with bugs come bites, and stings. Usually the bites are small, and more of a nuisance than an actual injury. Hold to the age old advice and “don’t scratch it”. If its too much, there’s some instant relief you can find right in your house.
The ever irritating mosquito bite. Its not really summer without their unforgiving itch. After trying the store bought anti-itch creams, salt and apple cider vinegar, both common itch fighters. The pH of these items is thought to neutralize the allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. Other remedies include rubbing toothpaste or deodorant onto the bite. Rubbing a lemon with the pulp side may sting a little but will reduce the chance of infection.
Another common insect infliction is a bee or wasp sting. The first step to alleviating a sting is to remove the stinger right away, the longer it stays in, the more venom the bee pumps into you. Use tweezers or a credit card to swipe the stinger off to insure it doesn’t become buried in the skin. Once the stinger is gone, there’s a house full or items. Toothpaste is once again to the rescue because the glycerin dries out the venom, and the alkaline neutralizes acidic venom. Vinegar and baking soda mixed into a paste is good too but a simple ice cube will cool it down and numb the area. Also try honey (hair of the dog) and fresh papaya.
Ticks are another very bothersome and potentially dangerous bite. They often go unnoticed so learn how to find and how to remove them. Anytime you finish a walk in the woods immediately check for ticks, especially in hair and around the brims of clothing like your waistband and socks. If you find one, pull it off hastily but carefully, using fine tipped tweezers. You can also use credit card. It is important NOT to use petroleum jelly (Vaseline), nail polish, or fire to remove the tick. These methods do not kill the insect and force it to burrow deeper into the skin.
Chances of you or your child acquiring Lyme’s disease from a tick bite are low, but the chances increase after the first 24-72 hours. Call your doctor and ask to send in the removed bug in order to identify it if necessary.
If you use these remedies and take precautions, your bug bites and stings will be nothing more then an occasional nuisance. Remember that bugs aren’t out to harm you, and you don’t need to harm them. Just leave them alone and a rule of thumb is that they should leave you alone.