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Bees should be gone for the winter

I have a problem with bees. Last summer a nest of some stinging insects took up residence in my backyard. They seemed to be in or under a pile of yard debris, and they stung me when I got near them. I used two cans of Raid, and they were still there. So I just left the area alone. Now it's winter, and I'd like to finish raking up my yard. Do you think the bees are still there? And, if so, what do I do?

— Anne S., Medford

Well Anne, we at the Since You Asked School of Bad Buzzers were buzzing with curiosity about your quandary. So we called the good folks at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in Central Point.

Rick Hilton, a research entomologist at the center, would have preferred to have a sample of said "bee." Because he doubts we're really talking honey-maker here, Anne.

In fact, given your description, Hilton supposes you were dealing with either a bumblebee or a yellow jacket. Most likely, it was a yellow jacket, he says, as they are the more aggressive of the two species.

"(You) probably got stung by ground-nesting yellow jackets," Hilton guesses.

The good news is you should have no problem cleaning up your pile of leaves, etc., as both species are annual nesters. Late in the fall, the nest generates a lot of females, then it is abandoned, he said.

"In this cold weather, generally the nests are empty," Hilton said.

The Queenly gals have hunted out a nice spot to survive the winter. Come spring, they'll look for a little hole in the ground, "generally made by a rodent," to make a new nest, Hilton says.

We forgot to ask what happens to the dudes. But we gleaned they're gone, too.

However, should you have any further concerns, please call a local pest control company and have them come out to check. (Or borrow a bee suit.)

Email questions to youasked@mailtribune.com.