• Laura Winstanley

What’s the difference between a wasp and a bee?


Both wasps and bees are members of the Hymenoptera order of insects that also includes ants, although they belong to the same order they are quite different in their purpose. Although bees and wasps have the ability to sting wasps are the more aggressive species being able to sting multiple times, where as bees die if they have to use their sting.

Wasps are most active in the summer months (May-November) in the UK. This is partly due to weather and only the Queens survives to hibernate during the winter months.


Wasps have a distinctive yellow and black body and are often confused with hornets, but hornets are considerably larger than wasps.


We also find Bumblebees regularly get confused with hornets as they are quite large, and can look quite intimidating around the entry to a bees nest.


The best way to tell them apart is by the look of the body surface, wasps and hornets usually have a smooth body whilst bees are often plumper and hairy with their back legs being flat. Wasps and The Food Chain Wasps although annoying wasps do play a vital part in the food chain. They prey on a much larger number of insect pests that feed on our crops and garden as natures pest controllers.

So although most of the time wasps are quite irritating they do serve an important role in the human food chain. Although wasps are generally not aggressive when out foraging if they feel threatened or feel their nest is under threat, they have the ability to sting multiple times. This is an extremely painful and unpleasant experience and I n the worst cases can lead to death if someone is allergic to their venom. Often wasps build their nest close to human homes, and pose a threat to children, pets or anyone who gets too close to the nest.

Many people are not aware of the dangers wasps present. If you have a nest in or around your home, it is important that you do not try to remove it yourself and instead seek professional help.

Honey bees have a barbed stinger in contrast to wasps who have a straight pointed stinger. If the barbed bee stinger penetrates the human skin. The bee is locked to the human and will die. It is a misconception that a bees can’t sting multiple times. Without the barb getting hooked, the bee can go onto sting again.

Colony Size There are actually 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in much larger colonies than wasps that contain the queen bee, worker bees and drones. The main types of bees are the bumble bee, mason bee and honeybee. The honeybee is the only social insect whose colony can survive many years. Bees can be dangerous if they feel threatened, however they tend not sting as often as wasps as they can only sting once before they die. Like a wasp sting they can be very painful and again in the worst cases cause death to a small percentage of people who are allergic to their venom. Another difference between bees and wasps is that queen wasps build their nest for their colonies whereas worker bees build and maintain their colonies nest. Unlike wasps who hibernate during the winter honeybees do not, instead they live on food reserves and heat accumulated by the colony. Wasps do not create any forms of honey but all species of honeybees do and are able to produce and store large amounts of honey in their hives.


If you need advice about a bees nest or colony of honey bees please call 01189680841


For wasp nest removals please visit the links below.


Wasp Nest Removal

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