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