Often mistaken for one another, wasps and bees (also known as honey bees), are similar entities that are noted for their mutual capability of delivering painful stings to humans. Unfortunately, there are species of bees and wasps and identification is often difficult.
Many similarities exist between wasps and honey bees; however, just as prevalent are their many eminent differences. Among the most crucial differences lies within the predatorial tendencies exhibited by wasps that render them particularly aggressive and attack-ready at all times.
In contrast, honey bees are well-known for their near-universal defensive behavioral tendencies. Found on almost every continent in the world, honey bees are very rarely found to be a threat to humans, with the exception of extraordinarily rare species.
Rather than exhibiting the perpetual at-the-ready aggression found within wasps, honey bees are far more fixated on the essential task of accumulating nectar and pollen from plants and flowers, with the fundamental goal of honey production.
Despite their innocuous dispositions, honey bees should be regarded as viable threats. When intruded upon, they react collectively in a defensive manner with the ultimate intent of protecting the entrance of their nest.
In addition to their differing behavior towards humans and threats, there is an additional abundance of distinguishing factors between wasps and honey bees. It is crucial importance to be able to identify the differences between these two ubiquitous insects and are of particular consequence for homeowners seeking pest control services and those that reside in locales with significant populations of the insects and must know how to properly identify an insect-specific wound and its particular method of treatment.
Read on below for a comprehensive primer on the many differences and similarities found between wasps and honey bees in addition to learning how to identify their nests to provide an early indication of any preventative measures you may want to undertake.
|Primary physical difference||Wasps have:||Honey Bees have:|
|Primary identifying features||Wasps exist in every color imaginable, with species coming in:||Bees have:|
|Critically important information||In general:||In general:|
|Attack styles||Wasps are characteristically:||Honey Bees characteristically only attack in a defensive manner when:|
|Physical bodies||Wasps typically:||Honey Bees typically have:|
|Physical size||Wasps measure:||Honey Bees measure:|
|Physical size relativity||The length of a typical Wasp is:||The length of a typical Honey Bee is:|
|Group name||A group of wasps is referred to as a:||A group of wasps is referred to as a:|
|Stinging ability||Wasps do not die after attacking humans or other threats.|
They can sting multiple times and will attack even when unprovoked, by contrast, do not die after stinging. They are known to attack unprovoked and chase people over long distances
|Honey bees die when they sting due to their stinger becoming detached from their thorax and embedded within human skin|
Honeybees will generally leave you alone unless bothered
|Feeding||Wasps are carnivorous predators and eat other insects||Honey bees are engaged in pollinating, collecting pollen, and eating honey|
|Did you know?||Despite their fearsome presence, wasps are considered to be immensely beneficial for agriculture, major corporations, and humans in general|
Highly adept at controlling pest populations that are a bane to global agricultural industries, wasp populations are now regularly and systematically deployed in a purposeful manner to protect crops and encourage profits
|Honey bees play a big part in how medicine is changing today|
Using resin found from Poplar and Evergreen trees, honey bees employ it as a caulking glue to reinforce their hives durability
Humans use this same resin in medicine to stave off various viruses, fungus, and forms of bacteria
|Both wasps and honey bees are part of the Anthropoda suborder||Both wasps and honey bees have rear-facing, backward stingers with barbs on them to penetrate an attacker|
|Both wasps and honey bees are part of the Hymenotera insect class||Both wasps and honey bees have long, dangling legs|
|Both wasps and honey bees are part of the Anthropoda phylum||Both wasps and honey bees can deliver excruciatingly painful stings|
Both honey bees and wasps are members of the Hymenoptera insect class. Despite coming from the same class, their physical bodies exhibit a multitude of differences, from length to exterior coloring and the texture of their skin.
Overall, wasps and bees have a multitude of physical differences marking the exteriors of their bodies with most of the differences found primarily on their abdominal and leg structures.
Honey bees measure around 1-inch long while wasps typically measure 1.5 inches long. A honey bee’s body can be a solid black, a mixture of black with brown tones, or with yellow and orange linear demarcations.
Wasps come in a shocking array of colors from bright hues of blue, crimson, and purple to drab tones of earthy brown.
Honey bees are always hairy. With their hairy bodies and hairy legs, honey bees are relatively easy to identify. In comparison, wasps have a distinctly smooth, hairless exterior on their bodies that is slightly sheened.
With their similarly smooth legs, wasps are free of much of the hair found on honey bees. It should be noted that the legs of a wasp are rounded with a waxy look and feel. Comparatively, honey bees have legs that are widely flattened.
A wasp has a barrel-shaped abdomen with slightly rounded curves and a slim waist, whereas a honey bee has a distinctly round abdomen and thorax.
In contrast, wasps have a narrow waist that almost appears cinched, four exterior wings, and can often be easily identified by their boldly colored exteriors.
Behaviorally, wasps and bees lead distinctly different lives. While a wasp is an omnivorous predator that engages in the hunt for insects such as flies and caterpillars, bees live a seemingly more benevolent lifestyle.
Honey bees are spending most of their time pollinating flowers, collecting a supply of pollen and sipping on honey and water while also using water to clean their hive.
It’s of interest to note that wasps are commonly attracted the smells associated with human forms of food, particularly yeasty beer and sugar-laden soda beverages.
Bees are defensive creatures that will attack out of necessity to protect themselves and their hives. With the poison located in their sharp, pointed stingers, they sting human intruders with a painful sting, leaving the stinger embedded in the human’s skin. The act of stinging renders a bee incapacitated; with its stringer stripped from its thorax and embedded in the human skin, the bee loses an essential body part and dies.
Wasps are infamous for their aggressive behavior and exhibit behaviors associated with other predator types found in the animal kingdom.
Easily provoked, a wasp will sting a perceived threat and subsequently elicit pheromones to other members of its colony, which then come out in a swarm to collectively attack the intruder or threat. Wasps have been known to chase people down for hundreds of yards when in attack mode.
In general, honey bees will leave humans alone so long as the humans do not intrude upon their nest or nesting habits. When left alone, honey bees are busy creatures intent on their pollinating missions and the eating of honey.
Wasps should be avoided at all costs. Until a safe assessment can be made as to what species the wasps are and what their stinging abilities entail, wasps should be considered dangerous. Unlike bees, wasps can sting human multiple times during attacks. Their stingers do not become embedded in the human skin and don’t become unattached. Thus, they can engage in a fierce attack while sending pheromones out to their colony members to join the attack.
Bees are extremely social insects that live in colonies headed by a single queen bee and a collection of inner-hive drone among countless worker bees. With the ability to house up to 40,000 bees, a honey bee hive is packed tightly with angular cellular structures that comprise an incredibly detailed honeycomb that is used to store pollen and honey, as well as providing a haven for pupae, larvae, and eggs.
Honey bee nests have been found in locations such as hollowed out trees, within the deep recesses of caves, and inside rock cavities. Regardless of the locale in which they are found, honey bee nests share marked commonalities. With a careful eye, humans will be able to spot clearly exposed honeycombs that are situated parallel to each other with a nest showing a single main entrance.
There are myriad differences between the lifestyles and habits of honey bees and wasps. With honey bee colony populations numbering over 75,000, wasps populations pale in comparison, with typical colonies having just under 10,000 members.
Queen wasps are responsible for the building of her colonies nest. Tasked with this solitary responsibility, the queen spends significant time building a fibrous, papery nest in the locale of her choice while also ensuring that it is stable and functional for her 10,000-member colony.
Comparatively, it is the responsibility of worker honey bees to construct and create hives for their honey bee colony. They are also tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the hives.
During the cold winter months, wasps are found hibernating until the upcoming autumn season, where they will come out and build new nests.
In stark contrast, honey bees do not hibernate at all. Rather, they live on the massive amount of stored honey located within their hive and stay warm as a collective among the thousands of their honey bee colony members who not only help to build up the honey supply but also provide much-needed warmth during the frigid winter season.