Dan Scollard’s summer job consists of harvesting yellow jackets and hornets from hives in the mid-Willamette Valley, and it’s a service he provides to people for free.
The Corvallis resident gets paid for delivering the creatures to pharmaceutical companies, which use the insects’ venom to make medicine to treat people suffering sting-related allergic reactions.
“Sometimes I’ll be collecting the hives from the homes of people who are genuinely allergic. It makes me feel good in that aspect,” Scollard said.
Of course, even with a specialized shop vacuum to capture the insects, it’s a bit complicated to gather yellow jackets and hornets while leaving them unharmed and relatively unstressed.
“It is dangerous. It’s been extremely painful, with some frequency,” Scollard said.
Scollard wears a full beekeepers suit that he’s modified to keep out persistent yellow jackets, but he still gets stung almost every time he collects a hive — which is every day during the summer and early fall.
“Folks think I must be nuts to do this,” he said, laughing.
And he acknowledged that when he runs into a large hive, his job can be frightening.
Yellow jackets in particular get “deeply” angry.
“They are just fantastically intense little creatures. They have amazing strength about what they do. When you get an entire hive mad at you, it’s a spectacle of nature,” Scollard said.
Some of the insects he collects spit venom, bite and sting. And Scollard can be in the midst of thousands of them.
“Nobody in their right mind really wants to go there,” he said.
Scollard also tends honeybee hives at his home near Oregon State University, where he works as a music instructor.
“Most people don’t even notice the beehives, but they are working hard,” he said.
And honeybees have a much gentler temperament than the other striped insects he deals with.
Jim DiGiulio, a Corvallis resident who has harvested wasps and hornets for 25 years, mentored Scollard.
He is in the process of transferring his collection business to Scollard.
Yellow jackets and hornets build new nests every summer.
Yellow jackets typically nest in the ground, while hornets are aerial nesters.
Paper wasps, which have open cell hives above ground, aren’t among the species Scollard collects. However, paper wasps also aren’t aggressive and generally have small nests.
To get a yellow jacket or hornet hive removed, call Dan Scollard at 541-753-6861 or Jim DiGiulio at 541-752-8396.