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The Differences Between Bees & Wasps


Most people don't notice the physical characteristics of a bee or wasp when they see one or when one stings them. They also generally refer to these stinging insects as bees, but there are several differences between them. Along with physical differences, not all bees and wasps behave the same and require various techniques to remove in the event of an infestation. You can identify whether you have bees or wasps with the differences detailed below.

Physical Differences

A few key physical characteristics set bees and wasps apart. Bees have hairy, robust bodies, and their back legs are flat. Wasps have slender bodies and narrow waists that connect their mid sections to their rear segments. Additionally, wasps have shiny, smooth-looking bodies and cylinder-shaped legs.

Differences in Behavior

As pollinators, bees spend a lot of their time visiting flowers and plants to distribute and gather pollen. Their flat, hairy bodies are great for holding the pollen as they transport it from one place to another. They also feed pollen and nectar to their young.

Wasps, on the other hand, are predators with sleek, streamlined bodies for hunting. Adult wasps might feed on pollen or nectar, but their young eat arthropods, caterpillars, flies and other insects. Due to their predatory nature, wasps are aggressive and territorial. A majority of people don't realize that hornets and yellow jackets are types of wasps.

Differences in Stingers

Bees and wasps both have stingers and inject venom into their victims. Most of them can remove their stingers and fly away, although some wasps may attack repeatedly. Honeybees, however, have different stingers that are barbed and stick to skin. They cannot retract their stingers when they fly away, so it rips off their bodies. Since their stingers are attached to their digestive systems, stinging honeybees eventually die.

Nest-Building Differences

How and where nests are made are great ways to differentiate between bees and wasps. Bees build their nests by stacking wax cells on top of each other. While most bees build their nests in buildings, the ground or tree cavities, honeybee nests are manufactured. Wasps, however, use papery pulp to make their nests into rounded combs. They make the pulp with their own saliva by chewing fibers, and build their nests in hidden areas such as eave crevices and under decks.

Signs of an Infestation

Although the signs of bee and wasp infestations are different, seeing a nest and workers flying nearby are good indicators. Wasp infestations are fairly common around homes because wasps like to build nests in locations that are sheltered from the weather. Although most wasp nests are small, they could grow to host a large population, so it's important to have them removed when you notice them.

Contact Sorenson Pest Control for reliable bee, wasp and other pest control services.

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