How to determine if it is a honey bee or a wasp?
Wasps and honey bees are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects. However, their physical bodies are different.
- Honey bees measure around 2.54 cm long.
- Some have entirely black bodies, while others are black or brown with orange or yellow striations.
- Honey bees are hairy, while wasps usually have smooth and shiny skin.
- Wasps are narrow-waisted, have four wings and may be brightly coloured, with black and yellow patterns.
Wasps and honey bees
can be mistaken for one another because both insects are capable of giving painful stings. While bees can attack when provoked, wasps are naturally and more aggressive predators. Identifying the difference between honey bees and wasps is important in order to administer proper treatment of wounds and appropriate pest control.
Wasps and honey bees are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects. However, their physical bodies are different. Bees measure around 2.54 cm long. Some have entirely black bodies, while others are black or brown with orange or yellow striations. Bees are hairy, while wasps usually have smooth and shiny skin. Wasps are narrow-waisted, have four wings and may be brightly colored, with black and yellow patterns.
Wasps and bees
also differ in lifestyle and habits. Honey bee colonies can have populations over 75,000, while wasps’ colonies tend to have fewer than 10,000 individuals. Queen wasps build a nest for their colony, while worker honey bees create and maintain hives. Unlike most wasps that hibernate during the winter season and build a new nest the following autumn, honey bees do not hibernate, as they live on food reserves and heat accumulated by thousands of workers. Wasp species cannot produce honey, but all species of honey bees are capable of producing and storing sizeable amounts of honey within their hives. While honey bees can sting only once and die after attacking, a single wasp is capable of stinging multiple times.
Wasps are most active in the warm summer months. In Ireland, the Common and German Wasp cause the most annoyance. With their distinctive yellow and black body, they can be confused with hornets, although hornets are not as common in this country. Wasps can also be confused with bees. However, bees vary in colour from golden brown to almost black and are furrier than wasps. A wasp sting can be particularly painful. Only female wasps have a sting, and they will use it repeatedly if they feel under threat.
If you are experiencing high numbers of wasps in your home or garden there is likely to be a wasp nest nearby, either on your property, in your garden or very close by.A mature nest in summer can contain thousands of wasps.
There are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in colonies that contain the queen bee, the worker bees and the drones. There are many different types of bee including bumble bees, mason bees, honey bees, and solitary bees. Honey bees tend to live in large “families” and are found all over the world. The bee is the only social insect whose colony can survive many years.
Did you know that Ireland has joined 20 countries committed to working together to protect pollinators? We are working together with authorities and organisations to protect pollinators while harnessing public concern for bee decline.
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