Understanding the Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Most people tend to confuse between wasps and honey bees since both are insects that can give painful stings. However, when wasps can attack naturally and at any time, honey bees attack mostly when provoked. Getting the difference between the two is vital as it can help you know the right treatment to administer to the wound once you are stung by any of them. It also assists you in determining the proper pest control method. Some of the differences to help you in identifying the two creatures include:

Physical appearance

The two creatures differ in appearance. Their bodies and leg structures are both different. Bees have hairy bodies and legs while wasps are smooth. Moreover, bees have round abdomen and thorax while wasps have cylindrical. Wasps have round waxy legs while bees have flat wide legs.

Behavioral characteristics

Bees use poison to protect themselves or their hives. They can sting anyone who becomes a threat. Their stinger is sharp and remains in the skin of the victim. The stinger comes from the bee’s thorax and causes the bee to die eventually.

Wasps, on the other hand, are aggressive as they are predators. Wasps are easily provoked and can sting you even if you are not trying to hurt them. Their stinger is smooth and comes out of the skin quickly. When wasps sense danger near the nest, they produce pheromones to alert the whole family to come and attack who is trying to endanger them.

Neither of the two creatures is aggressive until when it feels endangered. They are good at protecting their eggs and nests. Bees have mild stings, and some of their males may act bold, but they do not sting. Honey bees can only sting once, but their stinger is much irritating since it remains in the skin and has a venom bag attached to it. Wasps are much dangerous since they can sting for more than once although their stingers do not remain in the skin.

Feeding habits

Bees feed by collecting pollen grains and sipping on nectar. They are known for being pollination agents. You can easily find them in flowers. They also love collecting water for drinking and cleaning their hives. There is a particular nectar-like substance, which when taken by the queen bee, it transforms it into being a queen.

Wasps, on the other hand, are predators that feed on insects such as flies. They occasionally sip on nectar too. They love the smell of beer and beverages and these two things can attract them to your home.


Bees live in colonies with each colony being made of a queen and workers. A single hive contains up to 40,000 bees during the yearly peak which is spring. The hive is densely packed with cells made of wax known as honeycomb. The bees use them to store food and to house their eggs, larvae, and pupae. They mostly use rock cavities, caves and hollow trees for nesting sites. The bark around their hive is smoothened, and the hive’s walls are coated with a layer of plant resin. The honeycombs are attached to walls of the cavities and sides leaving small passageways left at the comb edges. The honey bees’ hive has one entrance.

Unlike the honey bees, wasps do not produce wax. Instead, they create paper-like substances from wood that they gather from weathered timber softened by chewing it and mixing with saliva. They then use it to make combs. The nests are mostly built of mud, or if not, the wasps make burrows in soil or plant stems.

The kind of nest made by wasps depends on the species and the location. Most social wasps produce paper pulps on trees and holes on the ground. The queen first builds most of the nests and the female workers, who are the daughters of the queen, take over later. The size of the nest is dependent on the number of female workers in that particular colony. The colonies mostly have a population of several thousand workers, and there has to be at least one queen.

There are two types of wasps, the social and solitary wasps. Potter wasps make vase-like nests made of mud and with multiple cells. The pollen wasps and the mud daubers make mud cells in sheltered areas such as the side of walls.

These are some of the many characteristics that distinguish these two stinging insects. They, however, have some things in common but knowing the difference helps you to follow the right steps to prevent infestation. It also helps in ensuring that you administer the proper treatment on wounds without confusing a sting caused by either of them. If you have a bee infestation and you wish to understand more about the difference between bees and wasps, ask for assistance from a professional near you.

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