Bees VS Wasp : Which is Which?!?

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Bee Wild

Do YOU know the difference between a wasp and a bee?

Sure, most of the time we don’t care WHAT it is once they’ve stung us, but it’s good to know which insect you’re dealing with so you know how to react!

This week, we’ve broken down some key differences between the two.

Bees and wasps come in a variety of colors, so sometimes it’s not as simple as looking at their color scheme… there are black bees and yellow wasps (in fact, there are black and yellow flies)!

  1. One of the easiest indicators is the insect’s body. Wasps are slender, while bees are more rotund… mainly because their feeding habits are different. Wasps are predators, and have to hunt their prey (other insects and bugs)… so their bodies are sleeker to give them an advantage when hunting. Bees, on the other hand, have a more rotund body… more suited for gathering pollen and transporting it to feed their young.

  1. Nests also differ between wasps and bees. Most bee nests (most commonly referred to as “hives”) are manufactured, but sometimes bees make their homes in tree cavities, buildings or even holes in the ground. A wasp’s nest consists of a pulp out of chewed-up fibers and its own saliva. Wasps tend to build in hidden, out of the way places, like under decks or in remote crevices.

  2. Social or Asocial? Bees are more “social” insects – their hives can have up to 50,000+ residents, while even large wasp nests usually contain well under 10,000 residents!

  3. Winter Workouts. Another difference (though not necessarily easily observable) is that wasps hibernate during winter, while (surprisingly) bees do not. Bees go into what is often called a “winter cluster.” They remain in the hive, and group together to “shiver,” keeping the queen bee (who is at the center of the huddle) warm!

So there you have it! Of course, there are more similarities and differences between these insects, but the above gives you a great primer for identification. The next time you see something buzzing around, take a second glance and see if you can tell into which family it fits!


PROTIP: You might want to think twice before you seek revenge against the insect that stung you: If you squish a bee or yellow jacket, it can give off a scent that acts as an alarm and its nest is within 15 feet (sometimes more) then hivemates will hunt you down and sting you many, many more times! If you have a bee or wasp infestation, give us a call and get expert help to eliminate your problem.

Photo courtesy

Handy guide to bees and wasps in North America

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