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Health & Welfare Bulletin No.33 : Wasps and Bees

*** Caution - Wasps and Bees ***

There have been reports of some very unfortunate incidents involving large animals and stinging insects. The animals have been stung badly and have required veterinary treatment.
All owners are advised to check round the hedges of their paddocks on a fine day. If you notice an unusual amount of insect activity, check whether there is a wasps nest or a bee swarm established in the hedge. If there is and any of your animals inadvertently go too close or disturb the nest, the occupants will do what comes naturally which is to sting and chase the 'predator' away. When the insect attacks (or defends its nest depending on your point of view), it burrows down through the coat until it reaches the skin. When they sting, both wasps and bees emit a pheromone which attracts their nest mates to come and help. If the predator does not move away quickly, more insects will sting.
Neither wasps nor bees will sting unless they perceive they are in danger. There are no 'killer bees' in this country and, even if there were, they would still not actively seek out a subject to attack, contrary to the popular depiction in the movies!
If you find a nest, determine whether it is wasps or bees. Wasps have distinct black and yellow stripes. They form their nest out of chewed wood pulp. It is usually roughly spherical and will be hanging from a branch in the hedge. Bees have more muted colours, ranging from completely dark to those with yellow segments on their abdomens. They build parallel, vertical combs from beeswax which are protected by a cluster of bees.
You will need to get a pest controller to deal with a wasps nest. If you can get in touch with the local beekeeping association, one of its members may well be prepared to come and collect a swarm.
If possible, move your animals to another paddock until the nest has been removed. If this is not possible, fence it off from their attentions.