Bees vs. Wasps: How to Tell the Difference
nce the weather warms up, insects such as bees and wasps start pestering us as we make our way around the D.C. area, taking part in barbecues in our backyards, going to baseball games and so on. Many people group these two insect types together, and, although there are definite similarities, several differences exist.
Perhaps the most significant difference is that wasps are much more aggressive than the usually mild-mannered bees, who tend to only attack when their hive is threatened. Also of note is that wasps are apt to look for human food, most notably sweet kinds and usually in late summer when colonies tend to no longer be a cohesive unit, putting them more on their own than was the case earlier in the year.
Another important difference between wasps and bees is that the same wasp can sting multiple times while bees can only sting once and then die because the sting that they leave in the stung person remains connected to much of the insect’s abdomen and digestive tract. For that reason, wasps are more dangerous because the same one can sting you multiple times. Of course, the fact that they can sting multiple times without dying has a lot to do with why they have more aggressive natures; they have little to lose while bees are engaged in suicide missions when they decide to sting you.
Regardless of which one you encounter or what time of year it is, it’s best to keep still as wildly waving arms will be more apt to cause one to sting you. This includes the scenario in which one lands on your arm as it is likely there to get some water or inspect a smell and will end up flying away as long as you don’t start flailing your arms.
How are they different physically? Bees are rounder and hairier, and their rear legs are flat. Conversely, wasps are slender and smoother, giving off a shininess and crispiness that bees do not. They’re also not as round overall as bees are although their legs are round, not flat. Wasps also have narrow waists.
Their nests tend to be quite different. Most notably, bees normally swarm around the outside of their nests, so much so that the nest itself may not be visible. Wasp nests usually have a paper-like look to them, and they tend to be busily working inside the nest, out of sight.
Since both bees and wasps can become quite aggressive when their hives are threatened, make sure to contact Capitol Pest in order to get that taken care of. Professional exterminators can also locate the nest if you believe there is one but cannot locate it yourself.