Can you spot the difference?
Many people think they can tell the difference between a bee and a wasp but are often mistaken.
Wasps are slender, with a particularly narrow waist. They have a yellow and black striped abdomen and wings are attached to the mid section of its body. Wasps can be regarded as generally useful insects, helping to control other pests and cleaning up dead insect carcasses. They can even act as pollinators, but in general they are regarded as nuisance pests and a threat to health. Many people have a genuine phobia against them, in some cases with good reason. Wasp stings may be unpleasant to most of us, but to some, they can prove fatal. The ability of these social insects to inflict multiple stings means that for certain individuals, they can kill.
Wasp nests are made from untreated dead wood which is converted into a paste to construct the nest. Many people assume that wasps are ‘swarming’ when they see them gathering around the entry point of the nest. Wasps do not normally swarm in clusters the same way as honeybees do. The only time they will appear to swarm is when the nest has either been treated or the entrance has been blocked and foraging wasps are trying to get back into the nest. Wasps will swarm feed, but this is not the same as a honeybee swarm.
Honey bees are plump little insects with hairy bodies and fat legs. They have a brown and yellow striped pattern and are much less vivid in colour compared to wasps. Honey bees feed on nectar and pollen and usually nest in holes in trees, buildings or on the ground. If you see a large ball of insects either flying or clustered in a hedge or tree, they are very likely to be honey bees. Like wasps, honey bees can also sting, but bees are unable to remove their stinger. When they fly away, they leave it behind and eventually the bee dies. They swarm as part of their reproductive cycle and will only stay in one place for a short period of time. Honeybees usually nest in holes in trees, buildings or on the ground.
The most common scenario in which people become concerned over honeybee activity is when they swarm. They swarm as part of their reproductive cycle and will only stay in one place for a short time. However, if a swarm has taken up residence in a building or void, it is time critical to have the bees collected or persuaded to move on using non-pesticidal smoke. If bees have been in residence for over 48 hours, chances are they have already started to build comb and the queens egg laying will have resumed. Honeybees are the only insects in the world that produce food for humans!
If possible, the nest can be relocated. If you have a swarm of honeybees, contact a local beekeeper from the British Bee Keepers Association. In most cases, they will come and collect the swarm free of charge.
Bumble bees are quite large. They appear to be furry and have vivid yellow and black stripes across the width of their bodies. Bumblebees are social insects and live in a colony with a queen and her daughters (the workers). They have an annual lifecycle, with new nests being started each spring by queens. Bumble bees generally build their nests in hedgerows and generally do not sting but may do if they are provoked. They are becoming a rare species, and are important to food and crop production as they help pollination.
Solitary/ Masonry Bees
As the name suggests, these bees are solitary insects and you will rarely find them occurring in large numbers. Masonry bees look very much like the honey bee but are generally hairier and are slightly smaller than honey bees. Like all bees, they are important pollinators of plants, but unlike honey bees and bumble bees, they have no workers and have no shared nest.
Masonry bees generally nest in holes in brickwork. Although they are solitary, the masonry bees excavate their chambers close together giving the impression of being a colony of bees and occupying the same habitat.
Many people tend to confuse bees with wasps generally through fear of being stung and not wanting to get up close and personal with these insects. If you think you have a bee or a wasps nest, observe the activity and if you dare get close enough, observe the colours of the insects. As described above, wasps are yellow and black, bees tend to be duller in colour and some species are a lot smaller than a wasp. Wasps generally dart in and out of the nest rapidly, whereas bees are slower moving.
If you discover a bee’s nest at your property, our advice to you would be to leave them alone. Bees don’t cause any problems to your property and you are not in any danger of being stung if they are left alone and not provoked. After the summer season, the bees will go away and not return to the nesting site the following year.
If you discover a wasps nest, destruction of the nest should not be undertaken by an untrained person. It is advisable to contact a pest control company such as AG Pest Management for fast and effective treatment of the nest.
Bees aren’t a protected species, they are however endangered. AG Pest Management will not offer an eradication service unless they are posing a threat to public health.