A Magnolia Full of Bees?

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by Eric La Fountaine, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was received via email:

    I have a question about my neighbors Magnolia tree - something very
    bizarre is happening to it! I think it is a bush-type magnolia; in any
    case it's about 6 yrs. old and is about 6 ft. tall. A month ago
    yellow-jackets (bees) started swarming around it although there is no
    hive in the tree. We saw some very weird stuff on the branches (smaller,
    upper branches): brown, knobby things like popcorn kernals covering the
    branches, with black stuff, sort of like a thin black tar dripping down
    the leaves. It's even dripped down to some smaller bushes below it.
    What is this? Do you know? There are HUNDREDS of bees in this tree!

    Thank you for any information you can give me!

    Pamela, a.k.a. Loyalhedwig
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Maybe scale insects emitting honeydew that is being covered by sooty mold fungus. Yellowjackets (bees are something else) are attracted to the honeydew, or are hunting for prey (they are predatory) on the shrub anyway.
  3. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    I agree with the prior assessment. A Volk oil or oil/detergent spray should eliminate the scale/aphid/mealy bug (whatever) infestation and the rain or watering will slowly eliminate the sooty mold. Since the honeydew is the sustaining nutrient for the sooty mold, removing the critters removes the rest in succession. Voila! No hornets!

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