Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, etc.  Are they all one and the same?  Well, in a child’s mind, yes!  Because they all have the ability to fly and sting.  And it’s easier for a little one to yell bee as they run screaming from a pool than take the time to look and see what flying, stinging creature they are looking at.

When it comes to bees and other flying stinging creatures there are some key differences that the general population may or may not understand.  I’ll start by answering a question I have heard more than once.

Q: Why won’t the local bee keeper come and take this wasp nest?

A: Bees and wasps are fundamentally different in their purpose and functions.  A bee spends it’s time going from flower to flower, is useful for pollination and making honey (provided that it is a honey bee).  Wasps do not aid in pollination (although adult wasps will occasionally eat nectar from a flower- they lack the structure and anatomy to carry pollen from one place to another). Also wasps do not produce a yummy treat like honey- but they are attracted to your delicious picnic lunch.  Wasps do prey on other insect  populations and can be beneficial in the reduction of other insect populations.

That being said a bee keeper will not want to keep a wasp nest because they won’t produce honey, they won’t pollinate crops and they just might start feeding some honey bees (which the bee keeper wants to have) to their young.  It would be counterproductive for a bee keeper to take wasps.

What else is there to know?  Let’s start with physical appearance.  Well, bees tend to be plump and fuzzy, to put matters simply.  Additionally they have flat back legs for carrying pollen.  Wasps are sleek and have a slender waist (not using technical terms here).  Their legs tend to be long and more rounded rather than flat like a bee’s legs.

Nesting is another key difference.  Bees build their homes with a waxy substance of combs stacked on top of one another.  Wasps nests are made of a papery substance (fibers and wasp saliva) and tend to be more round in shape.

Attitude is another.  Yeah, that’s right, attitude.  Bees are pretty laid back and won’t typically buzz around your picnic- human food is not too appealing to them.  Wasp are more aggressive and are attracted to the types of food that people eat at a picnic.

There are many other differences between bees and wasps, and they both serve their purpose in the world.  If there are bees nesting in your attic or chimney or under the siding of your home you could have a sticky mess on your hands.  Bees are less typically a pest control issue, but if they are within a structure of your home or business it’s definitely worth a call to a pest control professional.

Wasps are typically more of a pest control issue because of their aggressive nature.  While they might pick off some of the other insect population around your house, they will also aggressively defend their nest & aggressively go after food.  If they want your hamburger and you slap at them, they’re going to sting you.  With wasps, a preventative spray at the beginning of the season can minimize the risk of having a major wasp issue around your house.