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The Difference between Bees and Wasps

Monday, March 9, 2015

If you are out in your yard or at a park for a picnic and you see a medium-size insect buzzing around, you might be afraid that it’s a wasp. And with good reason, the yellowjacket type of wasp accounts for 90% of all insect stings that people seek treatment for in Colorado. These insects can get very aggressive. And other wasps are likely to sting, too. You don’t want to shoo them away too aggressively or you’ll get stung.

Bees, on the other hand, are less likely to sting. Honey bees famously die when they sting, so they are very reluctant to use their sting. Other bees don’t die when they use their sting, but their sting is for protection only, so they don’t use it readily.

But how do you tell the difference?

What Do Bees Look Like?

Bees tend to be pretty fat little insects. They tend to be hairy, and if the insect you see is hairy, it’s definitely a bee and not a wasp. Honey bees have yellow and black stripes. Other bees can have a variety of colors, from straight black to straight yellow, with some blue and green varieties, too.

What Do Wasps Look Like?

Wasps are thinner insects, especially at their waist, which is pinched. They are hairless. They come in many colors, though the most common stinging wasps (yellowjackets and paper wasps) are also yellow and black.

How Do Bees Act?

A good way to distinguish between bees and wasps is to watch their behavior. Bees are pollinators. They drink nectar and eat pollen from flowers, flying among different flowers in the garden and helping the plants develop their seeds. They may be drawn to sweet smells like soda or Kool-Aid, but they won’t be interested in meat. Shooing them away is usually effective and won’t get you stung unless the bee feels its life is threatened.

How Do Wasps Act?

Wasps are predators. They live by eating other insects and spiders. Depending on the season, they might be drawn to your steak as they are trying to secure protein to help them overwinter. Wasps are aggressive and shooing them may drive them off or it may antagonize them, causing them to sting you, perhaps multiple times.

Nobody likes finding a wasp’s nest on their property. And although honey bees are beneficial, many people don’t like having them in their yard, although some people can coexist.

If you are looking for help removing a wasp or bee nest on your property anywhere along the Front Range, from Fort Collins to Castle Rock, we can help. Please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist today to learn more.


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