Wasps vs Bees: The 10 Things You Must Know About Deadly Wasps & Bees

Wasps and bees are both members of the Hymenoptera insect group and are immensely beneficial to the ecosystem. Several people seem to confuse wasps and bees, but they are not similar species.

In comparison to wasps, bees have larger bodies and much more hairs with a silkier appearance. Wasps have thin legs and a more shiny body. Honeybees have always been pollinators who only eat pollen and nectar from plants, whereas wasps are predators who eat other arthropods and insects. Wasps are increasingly interested in gathering sweets and other carbs in the summer season.

Wasps and bees differ in a variety of ways, including appearance and behavior.

wasps vs bees

What You Should Know About Wasps vs Bees

  1. Wasps are more violent than bees. Wasps have been known to attack without warning. However, they will only sting someone when provoked.
  2. Wasps can sting multiple times before dying, whereas honey bees die at one stinging.
  3. Bees are gregarious creatures. However, whether a wasp is communal or solitary varies entirely on the species.
  4. Wasps dwell in papery nests consisting of nibbled wood fragments and their natural saliva, whereas bees reside in architectural combs made of wax.
  5. Wasps have a tubular body and sternum, whereas bees have a spherical body and sternum.
  6. Wasps have spherical waxy limbs, but bees have flattened and broad legs.
  7. Bees’ feet are rarely visible during flying, whereas wasps have two slender legs that hang down during flight.
  8. The most abundant species of bees are honeybees and bumblebees.
  9. The most common wasp species are cicada killers and yellow jackets.
  10. In comparison to wasps, who prefer to build their hives inside a hollow tree, a wall, or even a garden shed, bees prefer to make their hives in more sheltered settings.

Physical Characteristics Of Wasps vs. Bees

  • The bodies and legs of bees and wasps are not the same. Wasps have smooth bodies and legs, but bees have hairy bodies and legs.
  • A bee’s abdomen and thorax are round, whereas a wasp’s abdomen and thorax are cylindrical.
  • Bees have flat, wide legs, but wasps have waxy, spherical legs.

Differences In Feeding Habits

Bees are pollinators, which means they collect pollen and drink nectar from flowers. They’re easy to spot in flower-filled places. Bees also consume water. They also use water to clean their hive. The queen bee eats Royal Jelly, a particular nectar-like substance that turns them into a queen bee.

Wasps are predators that eat caterpillars and flies, among other insects. The fragrance of human food, delightful beverages, and alcohol, attracts them. Wasps, on the other hand, occasionally drink nectar.

Behavioral Characteristics Of Bees vs Wasps

Bees employ the venom in their stingers to defend their hives or themselves when they need to protect themselves. Anyone who tries to disturb their hives will be stung. A honeybee’s stinger is sharp and pointed. After being stung, it remains in the skin. The stringer is ripped from the bee’s thorax, causing it to become stressed and eventually die.

Wasps are more aggressive than bees because they are predators. A wasp, unlike a bee, is easily provoked. While attempting to brush it away, it can sting you. A wasp’s stinger is smooth and readily removed from the skin. When a wasp detects a threat to itself or its nest, it emits pheromones that notify its family, who subsequently emerge and attack the person who has harmed it.

Wasps and bees aren’t usually aggressive. Only when accidentally touched in contact with the skin, stepped upon, or protected their homes and nests will they try to sting you aggressively.

The strength of a sting might vary significantly. Sweat bees, for example, sting just lightly, while males of other species of bees may seem aggressive yet but won’t be able to sting. While honeybee stingers will sting only once, they are painful because they are glued and will remain inside the skin.

This is also with a sac of venom attached. It would be best if you avoided bumble species of bees and wasps since they can sting numerous times. The only case here is that their stingers will not be removed or embedded in the skin.

Nesting Habits Of Bees

wasps vs bees

Very eusocial bees live in colonies. Each colony has a single queen, many workers, and drones at different phases of the colony cycle. It’s referred to as a hive when people provide the nest. A honey bee hive can have up to 40,000 bees at its annual peak in the spring, usually fewer.

The internal structure is a honeycomb, which is a densely packed matrix of hexagonal cells formed of beeswax. Bees use the cells to store food like honey and pollen and house the eggs, larvae, and pupae.

Natural nesting locations for these bees in the Apis subgenus include caves, suitable rock cavities, and hollow trees. Honeycombs are being revealed in the members in different subgenera. Their nests have several honeycombs which are parallel arranged to each other and have the same bee content.

There is usually only one entrance to the nest. Honey bees in the west prefer nests with at least 45 liters volume or even more. They avoid those with a volume less than 10 liters and those with more than 100 liters.

Honey bees in the west have a few preferences for nest-site characteristics: The above-ground height is mainly within the range of 1 meter and 5 meters. Their entrance positions usually face downwards. They prefer a south-facing entrance (as described by a reference from the Northern Hemisphere). They like the nest sites to be over 300 meters distance to their parent colony. Bees generally occupy the nests for many years.

The bees frequently smooth the bark surrounding the hive entrance. Their walls are coated with a fragile layer of molded plant resin which is propolis. Around the inner cavity, the honeycombs are connected to their walls. Tiny passageways are left open around the edges of the comb.

The top portion of their comb contains the honey, and underneath it, there are rows of cells of stored pollen grains, worker brood cells, and drone brood cells. This arrangement forms the ultimate nest layout for all honey bees. Lastly, the queen cells, usually peanut-shaped, are formed near the comb’s lower edge.

Nesting Habits Of Wasps

wasps vs bees

Wasps, unlike honey bees, do not have wax glands. Instead, many people use the wood pulp to make a paper-like product. Wood fibers are collected locally from worn wood, then chewed and mixed with saliva to soften them. The pulp is utilized to build brood-raising combs with cells. More often than not, nests are merely burrows excavated in a substrate (typically earth, but usually plant stems) or, if built, made of mud.

Wasps build several types of nests depending on the species and region. Many social wasps build paper pulp nests in trees, attics, holes in the ground, and other sheltered locations with outside access. On the other hand, solitary wasps are either parasitic or predatory and only the latter form nests.

Wasp nests, such as hornets’ are built by the queen and grow to about the size of a walnut. They are then taken over by sterile female workers (daughters of the queen wasp). The size of the nest usually determines the number of female workers in a colony. Colonies of social wasps can have tens of thousands of female workers and at least one queen.

Solitary wasps have a more comprehensive range of nesting practices than social wasps. Pollen wasps and mud daubers build mud cells in protected areas, usually on the side of walls. Potter wasps make vase-like nests out of mud, frequently with numerous chambers, and attach them to tree limbs or walls. Other predatory wasps burrow into soil or plant stems, while a few avoid building nests altogether, preferring natural cavities such as small holes in wood.

Difference Between Wasps vs Bee Body Structures

The look of bees, hornets, yellowjackets and other wasps can help distinguish them. The bodies of wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets are slim and narrow at the waist. They have a gleaming appearance and a smooth body surface. Bees are “plumper.” Bees are also hairier and have flatter back legs.

Wasps do not have a pollen basket on their rear legs, whereas bees have. The hind legs of a wasp hang down during flying, whereas the back legs of a bee are not visible. The stinger of a wasp differs from that of a bee in that it is not barbed.

Examples Of Wasps vs Bee Species

Although there are several wasps and bees, honeybees and bumblebees are the most frequent bees, while paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets are common wasps. Because hornets are a species of wasp resembling a yellowjacket, there isn’t much distinction between them.

Food Preferences Of Wasps vs Bee Species

Wasps are voracious predators that catch other insects to feed to their nestlings. Bees eat nectar and pollen from flowers, and they occasionally eat delicious leftovers from the trash. Adult wasps, on the other hand, eat nectar, honeydew, and decaying fruit.

Benefits Of Wasps vs Bees

Wasps and bees are both beneficial to the environment. Honeybees are thought to be responsible for up to 80% of fruit tree, vegetable plant, and legume pollination, as well as ornamental flower pollination. Bumblebees are also vital pollinators for a variety of plant species. Wasps use their predatory habits to manage insect populations. Wasps prey on flies, crickets, caterpillars, and other annoying insects.

Wasps vs Bee Home Comparison

There are significant distinctions between wasps and bees in terms of where they live. Except for Antarctica, both may be found on every continent.

Wasps create their nests from a pulp-like fluid made by chewing wood fibers and combining them with saliva. Yellowjackets and hornets will create a series of combs on top of each other, enclosing them in a pulpy envelope. Yellowjackets will construct their nests beneath the earth, in holes “borrowed” from animals or hollowed trees, shrubs, inside the walls of structures, and beneath the eaves of structures.

Hornets can establish nests in trees or along the sides of buildings. Under almost any horizontal surface area, paper wasps will construct a single paper comb with no surrounding envelope.

Honey bees, on the other hand, use wax to construct a string of vertical combs. They can nest in tree cavities, but most of their nests today are prefabricated hives provided by humans. Empty burrows and building openings are home to bumblebees.

Cold Weather Impact On Wasps vs Bees

Wasps will shift their attention from insects and other protein sources to carbohydrates as the weather cools. If you’ve ever attended your child’s soccer game in the fall, you’ve probably seen yellowjackets flying around, landing on coke cans and trash cans. They’re on the lookout for anything sweet to consume. In frigid climates, wasp and bumblebee colonies do not survive the winter; only new queen bees survive, hiding wherever they can stay warm. Honeybee colonies, on the other hand, can live for several years.


Although wasps and bees are both capable of stinging humans, there are several significant differences between the two. Wasps are predators that can sting multiple times. Bees die after stinging because their stinger, attached to the poison sac, is barbed and remains in the skin, causing the bee to eventually die when the stinger rips away from the bee’s body.

Knowing the differences between wasps and bees can help you avoid being stung by either.

wasps vs bees

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