Be Protected and Powerful with Yellow Jacket Medicine
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Many years ago, as I enjoyed the sunshine and fresh breeze of early July on my back deck, an adorable, fluffy, big, round bee bumbled about near the deck railing. He was joined by several friends, who bounced in the air, swirling around each other and then disappearing into a perfectly round hole in the deck railing.
I had Carpenter Bees! Also known as Wood Bees, these winged creatures drill holes into wood to form their nests. This is fine when their home is in a dead tree or fallen log, but they were ruining my deck.
A quick review of advice on the internet turned up a number of poisonous (insecticide) or dangerous (plugging the holes and hoping not to get stung) options. These days, a number of natural suggestions turn up in an internet search (spraying citrus oil or playing loud music around the nesting site), but back then the information was limited.
So, I said a prayer, asking for the Carpenter Bees to leave my deck alone, in a graceful and natural way.
A few days later, as my friend Shawn was mowing my lawn, I heard shouts of pain and fury...and the lawnmower suddenly stopped. Shawn ran from the yard, cussing and swatting and stomping. He had mowed over a Yellow Jacket Wasp nest, and he had been punished with numerous painful stings.
We treated the stings and left a wide swath of long grass to grow around the Yellow Jacket nest, while I went to investigate what to do about Yellow Jackets! What I discovered was that there are different kinds of Yellow Jacket Wasps--those that are native to this area nest in the ground, and their favorite food is Carpenter Bees. Aha! My prayer had been answered!
Over the next few weeks, I watched the Yellow Jackets lift gracefully out of the ground in the mornings. They rose from the ground a few inches, and then with a breath of possibility, they gently swooped down slightly and then lifted suddenly and energetically into the day. At the end of the day, they returned to the nest in tired swirls of flight and a final, cautious easing down into the ground for the night.
(I found out later that I can simply talk to the Carpenter Bees to tell them to leave my deck alone -- watch for a future blog post on insect communication! Also, woodpeckers love to eat Carpenter Bees, so now if I need help with a persistent nest, I call on the Red Bellied Woodpeckers to eat the pests out of the wood. Not only do I pray for the woodpeckers' help, I also put out a treat they love: Birdacious Bark Butter Bits with Hot Pepper on a tray feeder from my local Wild Birds Unlimited store.)
The next summer, the Yellow Jackets had left my yard, and fortunately the Carpenter Bees stayed away as well. However, the Peach Tree in my front yard had become infested with Peach Leaf Borers. The tree was suffering, and the fruit was being destroyed. I soon learned that the number one predator of Peach Leaf Borers is Yellow Jacket Wasps! No sooner had I learned this than I discovered a Yellow Jacket nest in the flower patch near the Peach Tree. I left the Yellow Jackets to do their work, and my beloved Peach Tree was saved.
That wasn't quite the end of the story, though. When it came time to harvest the peaches, a few times, I inadvertently grabbed ahold of a Yellow Jacket that was on the far side of the piece of fruit. It hurt, but my gratitude to the wasps allowed me to forgive them quickly, and the stings healed quickly, too, with proper treatment, as I will outline below.
Later that summer, at a potluck party at the homestead of my friends, the Schimmoellers, I got stung by a Yellow Jacket again! I was sitting among a very large group of friends, and I was the only one who was stung. I mentioned to the friend sitting nearest me, Emaline of The Light Clinic for Chinese Medicine, that I had been stung repeatedly that year, and she explained that if you receive multiple stings, it may be an indication that your body needed the medicine of the sting.
The Surprising Healing Benefits of Yellow Jacket Stings
Yellow Jacket stings are extremely dangerous for some people, and it is wise to be cautious to avoid stings unless under the care of a medical professional. However, for millennia, the stings have been used to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms of many different conditions.
This article explains that Yellow Jacket stings have an anti-inflammatory effect that can be an effective treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I also came across this interesting article about Why That Bee Sting Might Be Good for You. And, these articles, Three Valuable Peptides from Bee and Wasp Venoms and Medicinal Uses of Bee Venom, give more information about the ways that bee and wasp stings have been used to benefit health in many cultures.
Learn More About Yellow Jackets
Click here for a very informative article about Yellow Jackets on Gardener's Path. This article includes information about recognizing the different species, their life cycle and behaviors, as well as ways to rid them from your yard if they become a dangerous nuisance despite their beneficial work of eating many other pest insects.
An option for avoiding the dangers of Yellow Jacket stings without killing them and destroying the nest is to visibly mark the nest. Without disturbing the nest, plant a small flag or place a flower pot nearby so that you know where the nest is and can safely leave it in peace. It is also important to remove their food sources so that they do not want to live there. In my experience, they like to be very near to their food (like within 6 feet!).
So alternatively, if you want to welcome them into your yard, create a landscape of plants (maybe in the distant corner of your garden) that is attractive to the insects that Yellow Jackets eat.
Spiritual Meaning of Yellow Jacket
If the insects that are visiting you are German Yellow Jackets, you will be able to recognize them by their aggressive nature and their taste for sweet things. These wasps can often be found buzzing around trash bins where soda cans and sweets wrappers have been disposed. German Yellow Jackets nest in the cavities of trees and even in people's houses, not in the ground.
A visit from German Yellow Jackets can be an indication that there are too many unhealthy sweets in your life. This can mean that you should cut back on the sodas, cakes, and candies that these insects favor. Or, it can mean that you are spending too much of your time on guilty pleasures that don't enhance your wellbeing or create good in the world--turn off that reality TV show, put down the video game controller, or walk away from the frequent drama with that person who pushes all your buttons. Instead, clean your house, volunteer at the community garden, or help your elderly neighbor with a home maintenance project. Also, clean up your trash that is attracting the wasps!
If the Yellow Jackets that are visiting you live in the ground, they will not be needlessly aggressive. They wear an easily seen bright yellow striped jacket as a warning, and they will only attack if they themselves are attacked or harmed. Know that you are being protected. And your protectors are furious warriors--unlike bees, Yellow Jackets can sting repeatedly; they often won't stop until the threat is gone. These creatures of creation are willing to help us when we are in Right Relationship.
Ted Andrews, the revered translator of animal messages, wrote in Animal-Speak Pocket Guide that Wasp communicates, "Protection is strong around you. Dreams are fulfilled through practical efforts and fulfilling your roles and responsibilities." (This is a handy little inexpensive guide book that I highly recommend!) It is an amazing revelation when we find that in simply doing our work, we have the power to make our dreams come true!
In this part of the world, it is easy enough to catch sight of stinging insects on a simple walk through one of our lovely nature parks. It can be fascinating to pause in the walk to watch the insect from a short distance. They tend to be busy, industrious friends, not easily distracted from their tasks and perfectly at peace with their place in the world. Observing Yellow Jackets can bring you an energized peace that gives surety to your actions afterward.
Of course, you do not need to see a Yellow Jacket, much less be stung by one, in order to call on the protective and power-giving medicine of these creatures. Simply sit quietly and give gratitude from your heart to the Yellow Jacket family. Honor it for the work it does and the elegance of its form and its flight. Invite Yellow Jacket to teach you about protection and power, and then pay attention carefully to your physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. In what ways will Yellow Jacket energy strengthen you today?
Avoiding Yellow Jacket Stings
First of all, you want to avoid stings if you can. As mentioned in this article, All About Yellow Jackets, Bees, and Their Kin, Yellow Jackets are attracted to flowery scents--yet another great reason to stop using fragrances like perfume and cologne!
If a Yellow Jacket is nearby, calmly walk away without disturbing it--pay attention to its flight pattern so that you can stay out of its path. If a Yellow Jacket lands on you, if you are brave enough, you can simply hold still and allow it to fly away when it is ready. Do not swat at it or try to crush it; if you are concerned about it being on you, gently brush it away.
Treatment of Yellow Jacket Stings
Yellow Jacket stings can be very dangerous, even fatal, especially for those who are allergic to them. However, most of the time, a Yellow Jacket sting is a minor injury. I always keep a bottle of Apis Mellifica with me to provide relief in case of a sting. I just melt one pill under my tongue as often as needed, and it causes the pain, redness, and swelling to go away quickly.
Immediately after a sting, it is a good idea to apply ice or a cold pack for up to 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Apply again as needed. (These natural Hot Pockets are made of a cotton fabric with rice inside; keep them in the freezer so that they will be ready for use as a cold pack when needed. I have not tried this brand, as I have always used homemade versions, but it is nice that you can buy it ready made!)
For further immediate relief of sting symptoms after using a cold pack, use a topical application of a natural mint toothpaste. (For brushing my teeth, I use a homemade tooth powder instead of toothpaste--watch for a future blogpost about dental health! However, for this kind of purpose, my favorite brand is Tom's of Maine.)
Drinking a cup of Roiibos tea can also be helpful, as it is scientifically proven to reduce histamine in your body, thus lessening your reaction to the sting. It is especially delicious in the summer sweetened with a little honey or maple syrup and chilled in the refrigerator.
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