Wasps or Bees? The Differences!

Even though these flying insects are similar in appearance and they belong to the same order, there are distinct differences between bees and wasps.  Of the two insects, the bee is the more docile of the two and unless threatened, they will most likely not sting you.  Wasps on the other hand are predators and they can sting without too much provocation.  If you are allergic to bee stings, you can also have a reaction to a wasp sting, so avoiding them is a good idea.

 

Differences in Appearance

Wasp

Wasp

While both bees and wasps can have the same coloring with alternating stripes of black and yellow or just black and yellow markings, the shape of their bodies easily identifies a bee from a wasp.  A bee has a round shaped body with a hairy body and legs.  A wasp’s body is thinner with a distinct separation between the abdomen area and the front of the body, or thorax.  Wasps’ bodies are smooth and they don’t have hair.

 

 

European Honey Bee

European Honey Bee

 

Aside from physical appearance, their are other physical differences that will help you identify a wasp from a bee.  Usually a bee is only going to sting you once and sometimes, their stinger may be left behind and the bee will end up dying.  However, the stinger on a wasp is retractable and it doesn’t tear out.  They can continue stinging until they simply get tired of doing so.

 

 

Difference in Homes

Wasp nest

Wasp nest

While bees live in a hive, wasps live in a paper-like nest, which you may find under the eaves of your home or garage.  Wasps are not necessarily social insects and some of them will create nests on their own in which to live.  Their nests are usually created from wood pulp, which is softened by chewing and saliva is mixed with it to construct the nest.  Sometimes nests are simple burrows created in soil or the stems of plants.

 

 

Differences in Feeding Habits

Wasp Attacking Bee Hive

Wasp Attacking Bee Hive

Bees like to feed on flowers, sipping on their nectar.  As bees go from flower to flower feeding, they help to pollinate the flowers and help them thrive.  Bees are very beneficial due to their pollination work.  Bees also drink water and use water to clean their hives.

Wasps on the other hand are predators and they will attack and eat other insects, such as flies and caterpillars.  They will sometimes sip on nectar, but they don’t pollinate like bees do.  They are attracted to sugary human food and beer, so if you want to avoid their sting, be mindful of what you consume outdoors.

If you find a wasp hive, you should get rid of it because of how aggressive wasps can be.  Although they, like bees, are generally mild mannered, they will sting with less provocation than bees.  You can use water to shoo the wasp away and then knock down the nest to discourage them from coming back.  Make sure you get rid of the entire nest so they won’t try to rebuild it.