Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Summer is the time when people like to go out, explore nature, and have a good time with families and friends. Then, while you’re eating out in the open field, you can hear a lot of buzzing sounds coming towards you. There is a chance that you will immediately think bees are going to attack you, and settle in on your uncovered food and drinks. But are they really bees though, or are they wasps? 

Bees and wasps have more than 20,000 kinds of species each. Both of them belong to an order called Hymenoptera, which also includes ants. When looking at these two insects with the untrained eye, specifically the honeybees and the yellow jacket wasps, the confusion is understandable. Yellowjackets and honeybees both seem to have the same body structure. They have somewhat elongated bodies of the same colour with wings.

However, upon taking a closer look at yellow jackets and honeybees, you can spot a lot of differences. This is especially true with their behaviours, appearance, food preferences, and sociability. But why do we need to know the difference between them?

It Is Important To Know The Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Both bees and wasps are known for stinging people, especially when provoked. But despite looking and sounding almost the same, bees have a lot of differences between wasps. Knowing the difference between bees and wasps will help you to react correctly when you see or hear them so your picnic will be saved.

In addition to that, bees are beneficial for maintaining the environment. They assist with plant reproduction and create food for other animals and humans through pollination. According to one study, honeybees are responsible for the creation of an estimated 80% of fruit trees, vegetable plants, legumes, and flowers! Harming or killing bees just because they seem “pesky” might do more harm than good for your surroundings.

Here are some comparisons of bees and wasps so you can better differentiate them:

Physical Characteristics

Bees have generally more rounded hairy bodies with thick middles and flat legs. The two wing sets of bees are resting on top of its thorax which is near the middle part of the body. We tend to associate bees with having a yellow coat, but they are actually coats ranging from orange to brown.

Wasps, on the other hand, have thinner waists which is the area where its body joins together. The bodies of wasps have bright yellow stripes that can be easily seen from afar. Wasps have six skinny, long legs with many spines and a waxy texture. If you are considering wasp control for the Spring, we can assist you.

Behavioural Characteristics

Even though both bees and wasps have stingers, the way that they use them is very different. Bees only sting once because this process is also fatal for them. The reason why honeybees die is due to the stress of removing their stingers from their thorax whenever they sting so their venom will be released to the target. They will only sting those that threaten their nest, but if you leave them alone, they won’t do anything to you. 

Each bee type’s stinging sensations are different. Honeybee stingers remain in the skin with the venom sac still attached. Bumblebees sting many times and their stingers stick to the skin like glue.

Wasps are more aggressive insects that are easily provoked. Some predatory wasps will proceed to sting you even if you aren’t threatening to smash them. Unlike the bee sting, which stubbornly stays in the skin after injection, wasp stings are easily removable from the skin. When wasps feel that their nest is in danger, they will signal their colonies of this then attack you as a group. 

Food Preferences

Bees feed on the nectar and pollen found in flowers and plants. Honeybees can also be found near bodies of water to drink and use the water to clean their hives. Queen bees also feed on Royal Jelly, which is a special substance similar to nectar, which the worker bees bring for it. This is also the substance responsible for turning a regular worker be to a queen bee.

Wasps are natural predators that eat other insects like caterpillars, larvae, and flies. Occasionally, wasps feed on nectar from flowers too. Unlike bees, wasps love the aroma coming from human foods, especially beer and sweets so they often are the causes of irritation for people that go on picnics. As wasps are aggressive, if you have a nest by your home, get the wasp nest removed by professionals.

Life Cycle And Habitats

Social bees take up residence in colonies. Every bee colony contains a single Queen Bee and many workers that serve the queen. At its peak, a honey bee hive can contain up to 40,000 bees inside. The beehive is made up of many hexagonal areas filled with beeswax that is called honeycombs which is where the bees store honey as food and their eggs for reproduction. 

Some honey bees create their nests near rock cavities, caves, and hollow tree barks. These nests have multiple honeycombs that are facing each other and have a single point of entry. Bees normally use these nests for several years before moving on to a new location. 

Oftentimes, bees make the bark around the entrance smoother. You may even see a lot of dead bees near the entrance of the hive as worker bees push out the weaker ones to make room for the next generation of bees. The cavity layers are protected with a thin hardened plant resin to make it sturdy. Honeycombs are attached to the walls but have spaces between them to allow passage. The structure for all honey bees is similar for all. Their honey is stored on the upper part of the honeycomb while pollen storage cells, drone cells, and worker-brood cells can be found in the lower section of the comb.

Honey bees do not hibernate at all. These bees survive using the food reserves that are collected by the worker bees all year. If you find yourself with a bee infestation, consider professional bee removal in the Toronto area instead of a DIY.

Wasps have no organs that can create wax. To make their nests more stable, wasps produce paper-like substances from wood pulp which is gathered from old wood that is softened and chewed with the wasp’s saliva to create the substance. This pulp is also used to make the combs. Wasps nests are generally burrowed under a piece of wood or roof spaces.

The size of wasp nests are small when starting out, but grow larger as time passes. Unlike the bees where the worker bees serve the queen bees, it is the wasp queen that ensures the growth and stability of its nest at the start before passing it on to female worker wasps that take over from the queen. Social wasps are often found in colonies that exceed a thousand female workers and one queen wasp. Solitary wasps are more diverse with their nesting habits than their social counterpart. They are parasitic and predatory in nature. Pollen wasps build nests from mud with multiple tree cells or twigs included. The number of wasps inside their colonies tends to reach 10,000. 

Hibernation for wasps normally occurs during the winter season and starts to build their nests in the next autumn season. Still not convinced? Read why a DIY approach to removing wasps or hornets may not be the best choice.