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Bees vs. Wasps – How to tell!

Many people get confused when it comes to the difference between bees and wasps/hornets and how to identify a bee hive or swarm vs. a wasp nest.

Although they may look similar, there are some pretty big differences between the two. Here you can learn about those differences and why here at RKB we love our bees, but not the wasps.

Please use this page to help identify whether you have a bee or wasp problem before requesting us to come out for free bee removal and relocation in the Flagstaff area.



When it comes to identifying bees vs. wasps there are a few things you should know.

First, what are the physical differences between the two?


Hey, nice pollen baskets!

Wasps are typically more streamlined, shiny looking, and have narrower slender legs. Bees on the other-hand have more hairs, a fatter body, and widened legs designed for carrying pollen in their “pollen baskets”.





You’re looking a little buzzed…


In flight bees may seem to be more loose in their flying, bobbing up and down and appearing drunk at times. Typically their larger legs will be seen dangling down behind them in flight as they are seen going from flower to flower.


Only TWO of these are bees!


A few facts about bees vs. wasps:

  • Many bees collect and store honey in large amounts, wasps do not.

  • Most bees have a barbed stinger they can only use once and then die as a result. Wasps can sting repeatedly and tend to be more aggressive in doing so.

  • Bees are more of a social insect and typical hives consist of thousands of bees in the colony. Wasp nests are much smaller in number typically.

  • Bees are peace loving vegetarians and live on a diet of nectar and pollen from flowers. Wasps are voracious omnivors and live on a diet of fallen fruit, nectar, and other insects.

  • Bees are our friends and go to heaven when they die. Wasps are evil and do not.


Hive, swarm, and nest identification

Wasp NestBees and wasps can often be told apart by their hive and nest construction. Most often you will not see a bee hive in the open, as they prefer hollows with small openings that are easily defensible. In rare cases and with certain bee species they may make their hive in the open, often attached to a tree branch.


414993b70f2bc9ee2551cadbd0346e92Wasps on the other hand tend to make gray-colored papery looking nests that resemble an upside down teardrop or may be open and resembling a flower with lots of cells.

Bees sometimes will be see “swarming”, especially in the spring and early summer. This happens when the hive gets too crowded and they make a new queen. This queen will then take, some, most, or all of the bees in the colony in search of a new home. The entire colony can be seen flying through the air or sometimes clinging to the side of a building, vehicle, or tree branch. When this takes place the queen will be in the middle of the swarm, with the other bees surrounding and taking care of her. Other “scout” bees will then be in search of a new suitable home where they can take up residence.


Although a colony of bees swarming may look frightening, they are actually much less likely to attack you than at other times. They are simply out looking for a new home, not worried about defending their current hive and honey stores. Don’t believe us? Just watch this video!

The enemy of my friend is my enemy

Bees and wasps/hornets tend to be mortal enemies. Often raiding hornets and wasps can cause huge problems for bees, as seen in this video where 30 giant Asian hornets decimate an entire colony of 30,000 European honey bees:

But bees are not defenseless! Where wasps and hornets may have dumb brute strength, many bees have highly developed and intelligent defenses like you can see here:

Viva la Bees!

Bees are highly useful to life as we know it on this planet. Not only do they provide us with rich and delicious honey, but they are the most abundant and prolific pollinators we know of! They provide us a great service here in America. If we did not have bee pollination, it would cost our country 19 billion dollars annually to hire enough people to hand pollinate our crops, something that bees do for us for free!

Slide1This is part of what drives our passion for removing and relocating bee colonies, rather than simply spraying them or calling an exterminator to kill them all. If you have a bee problem, be sure to contact us today and we’ll come out and remove them for free and provide them with a better location to call home!

FREE Hands-on Educational Lectures and Talks

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We would love to come and share about the beauty of bees and their role they play in our world as amazing pollinators and so much more

Nate Marshall Elementary

Nate sharing with Marshall Elementary school in Flagstaff

Hands-on learning!

Hands-on learning!

Over the years Nate has spoken at numerous schools, colleges, science gatherings, and hobby groups on this and other natural science topics. These talks can be as simple as 30 minute sessions to well over 2 hours of speaking and hands-on learning!

When we come speak we’ll often bring lots of “show and tell” examples people can see, smell, taste, and touch for themselves. (After all, wasn’t show and tell your favorite time in school?)

We want people to know the important contributions of bees and the way they reflect the wisdom of their Creator. No group is too big or too small! Just contact us and let us know how we can help!

Nate speaking in Orange County, CA

Nate speaking in Orange County, CA

Sharing with a group in Los Angeles

Sharing with a group in Los Angeles

We don’t charge a fee for this, only asking that travel expenses outside Flagstaff are covered if possible. We gladly accept tax-deductible donations to our cause or honorariums for the speaker, but neither of these are expected or necessary. And we really mean that!

At Royal Kenyon BeeWorks we have a passion for bees and want to share that with you! You’d be amazed to learn all the complexities of bee life and all the various things they make that we use and depend on daily. Let us come share some of our amazement with you.

Nate Bee Lecture 2

Organic Honey? What’s that all about?


So just what is “organic” honey and why does it matter?  Isn’t all honey naturally organic anyways?

The simple answer? No.

The bee keepers, who produce organic honey, make sure it is really organic by following certain standards. The natural habitat and life cycle of the bees are protected. They don’t expose the honey bees to any kind of synthetic chemicals or antibiotics to control diseases. The reason organic honey is excellent for your health is because it’s made without anything artificial that could harm you.

Interestingly enough, several scientific studies have proven beyond all doubt that organic honey is good for you. Honey can for example be used to treat sore throats, common calls, and even bronchial problems. It can also be used to help treat a number of stomach related problems such as ulcers. Furthermore, honey contains certain enzymes which help you to digest food. Lastly but not least, honey can be used to treat wounds in order to speed up the healing process. This is of course because honey is rich in natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, and because of its thick constituency, it also provides a natural barrier to open wounds.


Because honey has a low PH and high sugar content, it can be used effectively to prevent bacteria from infecting wounds. In fact, honey has an antiseptic action very similar to that of hydrogen peroxide. Honey is also recognized as being an effective remedy for treating burns, because not only does it reduce the pain by keeping the burn moist, but it also seals the burn which helps to prevent further contamination. Another benefit of using honey to treat burns is that the resultant scars tend to be less prominent than they would be if the burn had been treated with a different compound.

Thanks to surveys, it has been found that the vast majority of people prefer the taste of organic honey over other types of honey which contain additives. Organic honey is also known to be extremely gentle on your stomach, and it can very often contain beneficial bacteria which can aid your digestive system. Another noticeable benefit of honey is the energy factor, due to its fructose and glucose content. Essentially, these cause the body to store glycogen in the muscles and in the liver, which in turn means you end up having more energy. For this reason, organic honey is often eaten by athletes before taking part in events. Of course, because of organic honey contains antioxidants, it can also be extremely beneficial for the immune system.

Nowadays more and more people are discovering the convenience of organic honey crystals, in that they are a natural sweetener which has the entire flavor of honey, but without the stickiness. The crystals are made from pure organic honey and pure organic cane juice, meaning that they contain no preservatives, no artificial coloring, and no artificial flavoring. In fact, the crystals are ideal for adding to beverages and food recipes if you want to add the flavor of honey. For example, you can add the crystals to your tea and coffee, to smoothies, and even to things such as salads, breads, puddings, and cereals.

As you can see, there are LOTS of uses for honey, and especially organic honey where the bees are taken care of and the honey you consume is naturally made without the bees ingesting antibiotics, steroids, or artificial pollen and nectar.  So the only lingering question…is “organic” honey the same as “raw” honey? Nope!  But that’s an entirely different post.  Stay tuned!

What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

Imagine suddenly during one winter over 1/3 of the population in the United States was no more. That’s over 100,000,000 people. Not just died, but disappeared. Without definite cause or circumstance. Simply vanished. And the remaining population appeared too weak and disoriented to help rebuild the sudden collapse of the social structure within our country. Imagine that, and you might have an understanding what it’s like to be a bee today.

What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

 Colony Collapse Disorder-Dead_bee_winterThere is an epidemic facing today’s bees. One without a sure cause and without a sure cure. Beekeepers and apiaries have always faced periods of decline. Oftentimes this is attributed to weather related issues, overfarming of bees leading to scarce food supply, parasites, disease, or other related phenomenon. Usually the cause is determined and the bees have always bounced back. But more recently a new a frighting occurrence happened in 2006/2007 alone, with the mysterious loss of around 800,000 bee colonies — accounting for tens of billions of bees. And this sort of loss has continued every year since. This pale horseman of the beepocalypse has been dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD.

CCD has presented itself in ways unlike other diseases or problems we’ve seen in the past. Instead of simply dying off, the bees completely abandon their colonies and disappear. In collapsed colonies, CCD is suspected when a complete absence of adult bees is found in colonies, with no or little buildup of dead bees in the hive or in front of the hive. A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by a number of things occurring simultaneously:

  • Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies: Bees normally will not abandon a hive and swarm until the baby bees have all hatched.
  • Presence of adequate food stores of both honey and bee pollen still remain in the hive.
  • Presence of the queen bee. If the queen is not present, the hive died because it was queenless, which is not considered CCD.

Sometimes there are signs that may arise before the final colony collapse, including:

  • Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
  • Workforce seems to be made up of only young adult bees
  • The colony members are reluctant to consume provided food, even things like sugar syrup and protein supplement.

Colony Collapse Disorder-Abeilles-mortes-dead-beesThis mystery disorder and disappearance is happening on a grand scale unlike anything ever seen before, and is why, around the world, beekeepers, organizations, and entire nations are gathering together to help address and solve this problem.

So what causes Colony Collapse Disorder?

We’ll address this in our next segment on CCD, and why it can be such a mystery to figure out…


 Colony Collapse Disorder-Abella037eue

Flagstaff Free Bee Removal Service

Flagstaff free bee removal service is here!

swarmWe’re here to help anyone in the Flagstaff and Northern Arizona area with our free bee swarm removal service from now until the end of 2015 in order to help save our pollinators and provide a better alternative to simply killing them all.  Pollinators are in great need in our area and we need to help protect and preserve this valuable resource and the services they provide us all!

Whether it’s a bee swarm or established hive we can come out and do our best to remove, rescue and relocate the bees to on of our hives or a host-a-hive location. We have a growing list of those who would love to provide a home to a colony of bees who live on their property.  If you’re interested in our host-a-hive program or donating to help support this cause, please contact us today and let us know!

If you are in need of our Flagstaff Bee Removal Service please click here or give us a call anytime!

Peaks with Flower field 2a

10 fascinating facts about bees…

  1. Bees can actually get to “know” their owner, and recognize him/her. Especially if kept in proximity to people and not kept in isolation miles away from civilization.

  2. The Queen of a colony will mate only once in her lifetime of maybe several years, and lay around 2000 eggs a day every season until she dies. The drone which fertilized the Queen, himself fatherless, the product of an unimpregnated egg, becomes the father of thousands upon thousands of worker bees, and many fully developed Queens. After his one mating he dies.

  3. The Queen can choose to impregnate an egg or not at will. An impregnated egg can be hatched by the workers, also at will, as either an undeveloped female like themselves, or a fully developed Queen to carry on the species.

  4. Bees can in effect “speak” to each other, by means of their antennae, or feelers. The antennae, by their motions, form a language, in which wants, needs, and desires can be communicated.

  5. Although it is commonly believed that a bee will die once it has stung, due to the barbs on it. In fact, if left undisturbed, the bee can work it’s sting out without causing itself injury. Of course, the pain caused by the sting usually results in the bee being attacked by it’s victim, not giving it enough time to withdraw undamaged.


  6. A prolific Queen will, during her lifetime, lay one and a half million eggs. If these were to be laid end to end, the resulting line would stretch for nearly two miles. A good Queen is able to lay on average two eggs a minute for weeks on end. The lowest estimate would mean she lays twice her own weight daily.

  7. Propolis is a sticky, resinous substance gathered by bees from pine, horse-chestnut, and other trees, as they carry pollen on their hind legs. Propolis is used by the bees for filling up cracks, keeping out drafts, and making the hive watertight.

  8. While bees are not normally aggressive, if they consider themselves and the colony to be in danger they can, and will, attack with fury. They have even been used as weapons, and there are cases on record of whole regiments being put to flight by having hives hurled at them. Riots have also been subdued by the use of bees in this manner.

  9. The egg from which a Queen is to be reared, like the egg which is to produce a worker, hatches in three days. For six days more it continues in it’s larval state. It then spins it’s cocoon, is transformed into a nymph, and on the sixteenth day from the laying of the egg, it emerges as a perfect virgin queen. The vacant cell is never used again, and is usually cut down within a few hours.

  10. Sometimes a colony will find it’s Queen to be defective. Maybe she is infertile from not mating soon enough, or from a number of reasons only the bees themselves know. If that is the case the colony will “ball” the Queen. That is, they will entirely surround her, interlacing their bodiesArticle Submission, forming nothing less than a living prison. The queen is immobilized and unable to move. She will be kept imprisoned like this for up to twenty-four hours if necessary. Until she dies of suffocation or hunger.

Pollination and Bees

It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Most crops grown for their fruits (including vegetables such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant), nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton), and hay (alfalfa grown to feed livestock), require pollination by insects.
Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring production of seeds in most flowering plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species, which results in fertilization of plant ovaries and the production of seeds. The main insect pollinators, by far, are bees, and while European honey bees are the best known and widely managed pollinators, there are also hundreds of other species of bees, mostly solitary ground nesting species, that contribute some level of pollination services to crops and are very important in natural plant communities.

Why are bees good pollinators?

Bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their developing offspring. When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes or pockets on their legs or body, and then carry it back to their nest. Individual bees tend to focus on one kind of flower at a time, which means it is more likely that pollen from one flower will be transferred to another flower of the same species by a particular bee. Many plants require this kind of pollen distribution, known as cross-pollination, in order to produce viable seeds. The business of collecting pollen requires a lot of energy, and so many flowers attract and also reward bees with nectar, a mixture of water and sugars produced by plants.


Where and how do bees live?

Most bee species dig nests in soil, while others utilize plants, either by boring holes in pithy plant stems or wood, or by nesting in galleries made by wood-boring beetles in trees or other preexisting cavities. Bumble bees are known to nest in abandoned rodent burrows and feral honey bees are known to nest in tree hollows. Bees use a variety of materials to build their nests. Most bees line their nest cells with a waxy material they produce themselves, but others use pieces of leaves, small pebbles mixed with resin from tree sap, or mud to form the cells in which they lay their egg.

Why do bees need flowers throughout the growing season?

Many bee species are solitary (each female produces offspring in her own nest) with only one generation of bees produced per year. However, other species nest communally (several females share a nest) or have elaborate social structures with division of labor within the colony (usually with a single queen and many workers). These kinds of bees produce multiple generations per year. This means that bees that produce multiple generations each year need food resources (pollen and nectar) across most of the growing season to produce strong colonies. Providing plants in a landscape with overlapping bloom periods will help these bees survive and prosper.

We will be closed December 20th-26th for the holiday season. Merry Christmas! Dismiss