Bees and wasps bug people in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Bees and wasps bug people in Wausau

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

It may seem like your neighborhood bees are busier than usual this year. Experts said that may be because there are more during this summer than before.

They're at your picnic and near your home. But are bees buzzing in bigger bunches than before?

"I was minding my own business and I was like oh wow. I just got stung," said Brian Peterson, who lives in Wausau. "I was just sitting there floating in the water and I got stung. I wasn't swatting at them or anything. Sometimes they just sting you."

Experts said they don't have solid numbers about whether queen bees are expanding their reign in central Wisconsin. But they said weather conditions have been beautiful for helping insects survive.

"We were eating our lunch and they were spinning around and we had to freeze because we didn't want them to get us," said Kathy Guthman, who lives in Ringle. "They can get our food but not us!"

Bees have an easier time surviving mild winters -- like the one we just had. And because of the dry heat, there's not water to wash away their hives. Despite the way some swarm summer barbecues, experts said they don't really care about humans.

"They typically don't pay a lot of attention to people," said UWMC associate professor of biological sciences Paul Whitaker. "They're more interested in food or drink you might have or sometimes attractive floral scented deodorants or perfumes might bring them in."

Experts said another reason you may think you're seeing more bees is because another popular yellow and black insect -- the wasp -- looks just like them, but acts very differently.

"Bees are pollinators so their bodies will be very hairy whereas wasps are mainly predators so they will have fewer hairs on them," said Whitaker. "It's the wasps that will often show up at a picnic interested in a plate of food or a glass of beer or a soda."

The striped insects are bugging lots of people in our area and store managers around Wausau said repellant has been flying off the shelves.

"It's been probably the last couple of weeks or so with the dry weather it's probably been a little worse than normal but they've been abundant as far as the different bees and nests that are forming out there," said Menards general manager Jim Maki.

Even if they're not your favorite insects, nature experts said both bugs have a special spot in the ecosystem. With bees pollinating flowers and wasps preying on other insects to keep the populations under control.

Experts said bees and wasps don't necessarily want to sting you. But if they feel threatened, they may do it out of self defense. If you see them, the best way to avoid conflict is to just keep your distance.

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