Wasps and Bees Look the Same but There Are Important Differences Between the Two Insects
You’ve been noticing a lot of buzzing around your home lately, but you’re not sure if they’re wasps or bees.
While wasps and bees are both equally unwelcome to nest inside or around your home, identifying which pest it is can help determine the best plan of action going forward.
Wasp identification characteristics like physical appearance and nesting habits, and how they differ from bees, can help in identifying which pest has been causing you trouble.
Physical Appearance of Wasps & Bees
If you can get close enough without getting stung, you should be able to get a good idea of which species of pest it is.
Some key identifying traits among bees and wasps are:
Bees have hairy a body and legs, whereas wasps have smooth bodies and legs.
The abdomen and thorax of a bee are round, while that of wasps are cylindrical.
Bees have flat and wide legs, and wasps have round and waxy legs
Wasp Nest or Bees Nest?
When it comes to the nesting of bees and wasps, the location and physical appearance of the nest is usually a good indicator of which species it belongs to.
Bees typically build their hives in cavities that are protected from the elements like hollow trees, wall voids, or attics. Living in colonies, the bees will be seen out of the hive collecting nectar and pollen from various flowering plants.
If you are hearing a buzzing sound within the wall, or notice a wet spot on your wall, there’s a good chance you have a honey bee infestation. Although the damage from these hives is usually not structural, if the hive is abandoned in search of a new home, the honey and wax comb will melt and ruin drywall, insulation, and siding.
These nests usually have one entrance and can be lived in for several years.
Wasp nests are different than that of a bee. Unlike honey bees, wasps have no wax-producing glands, and instead create wasp nests from a paper-like substance from wood pulp.
Social wasps like yellow jackets, hornets, and paper wasps build nests and form colonies. On the contrary, solitary wasps , for the most part, live alone and do not build nests. This includes potter wasps and mud daubers, who construct mud cells in sheltered places typically on the side of walls.
Other wasps burrow into soil or into plant stems, and few do not build nests at all and prefer naturally occurring cavities, such as small holes in wood.
Benefits of Wasps & Bees to the Ecosystem
Although the benefits of bees are well known, many are unaware that wasps also benefit our ecosystem, despite being known simply as an aggressive nuisance.
As many people know, bees are excellent pollinators. Using their short, hairy legs, bees are responsible for collecting and transporting more than 80 percent of the pollen needed by most fruits, legumes, and vegetable-seed plants.
If all of the Earth’s bees were extinct, our diets would change drastically, as the variety of foods available would diminish without bee pollination. Coffee, specifically, would become expensive and rare, as the coffee flower is only open for pollination during a few-day window each year.
So, next time you’re thinking about stomping on the bee that’s disturbing your morning cup of coffee on the porch, maybe you should consider the bee pollen benefits it possesses.
As for wasps, while they’re not quite the pollinators that honeybees are, they still have their purpose. Acting more as natural pest control, wasps are predators who feed insects to their young. Preying on caterpillars, flies, and crickets, to name a few, these aggressive wasps help control the population of various crop-killing insects. You may feel the need to also destroy any yellow jacket in sight since they may startle you and can even be intimidating, but, if their nest is far away enough from your home, it’s best to just leave them alone.
And if you fear you have a bee or wasp infestation in or around your home, we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as perform a free inspection.