The difference between bees and wasps

Abell Pest Control

Although these two insects can be considered one in the same, knowing the difference between bees and wasps is essential for home and business owners. It's the first step in selecting the right pest prevention solution and is especially critical when dealing with possible allergic reactions.

Bees and wasps are both members of the Apoidea family, a group that has been on earth since the time of the dinosaurs. Today, there are thousands of species around the world and as many as 18,000 in North America alone.

Still, there are discernible differences between the two groups. Here's what you need to know:

What is a bee?

Species like the honey bee or bumble bee can pose a serious risk to people, but these tend to be less aggressive than wasps. Usually these insects can be identified by plump, yellow and black stripped bodies that are often covered in fine hairs.

Bees are social animals that live in hives and work together to protect a queen and raise young. This group of insects is distinct from wasps because they gather nectar from plants, spreading pollen as they travel. According to the Guardian, 80 percent of flowering plants breed with the help of bees, other insects, birds and bats, and as such, these animals have a tremendous impact on food production around the world. Unfortunately, pesticide use and other issues have decimated bee populations in recent years.

For home and business owners, bees can still represent a nuisance. A single bee will die if it uses its stinger, and for that reason these bugs aren't as pugnacious as wasps. Still, if a bee feels threatened, or worse, that the colony or queen are in danger, it will attack.

The best bet is to remain peaceful and calm around bees, because frantic breathing can trigger a defensive response. Bees can be a peaceful part of your suburban garden, but otherwise a pest removal specialist can help take care of the problem safely.

What is a wasp?

Although many types of wasps are fearsome predators, the group is quite diverse and there are species that fill ecological niches as pollinators, parasites and other roles. In general, however, wasps should be given plenty of space and respect. Yellow-jackets, hornets and other types of wasp can be quite dangerous.

This is because unlike bees, wasps don't die after administering a sting. An individual can therefore dish out a considerable amount of pain and damage, and as a swarm, wasps become fearsome natural hazards.

As the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology reported, stinging insects can still cause serious reactions even outside of traditional anaphylactic shock. The venom from an individual sting is mild, but pheromones released trigger other wasps to join an attack, and a person or child can quickly become overwhelmed.

Unlike bees, wasps have smooth bodies and sharp thoraxes. They too live in colonies but also operate as individual hunters. Many species build nests out of mud and saliva that hang from trees or gutters. Other species will live underground or in a decaying stump or other protected area. As such, an unkempt yard or property could offer wasps an opportunity to find shelter and get settled.

Taking care of a bee or wasp nest on your own can be quite dangerous. Swarms of stinging insects can be overpowering, and protective clothing may not be enough to defend yourself from these bugs. And because of the risk of a serious allergic reaction, its best to leave the task of removing any bees or wasps to pest control professionals.

About the author:

Since 1924, Abell Pest Control has provided quality services, protecting our customers and their patrons from coast-to-coast. Our customers enjoy the expertise and resources of a national provider. Prouder yet, we are members of your community, ready to service your home or business 24/7.

We are reliable experts in pest control—experts who care. At Abell Pest Control, we bring experience, efficacy and knowledge to customers who are looking for a fast, safe and effective solution to their pest problem.

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