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Bee or A Wasp? – How to Spot the Difference
How to spot the difference between a bee and a wasp

It is very easy to mistake a bee and a wasp because of their similar appearances and their capability to both give a nasty sting if they are inclined too. Being able to differentiate a bee from a wasp is very important in order to be able to treat a sting correctly and to carry out the correct type of pest control.

Bees and wasps both belong to the Hymenoptera order of insects and both of their larvae resemble maggots but there are a lot of differences between the two allowing you to distinguish one from the other including aggressiveness, characteristics, appearance and their food preferences.


Bees – A bee will have a robust and hairy body with flat rear legs and tend to measure up to around 2.5cms. Some bees have an entirely black body whereas some are black or brown with those recognisable yellow markings.

Wasps – Wasps have smooth and shiny skin in comparison to the hairy body of the bee which is where the first recognisable difference comes in to play. Wasps are narrow waisted, have 4 wings and they can be quite brightly coloured with black and yellow patterns. They also have cylindrical shaped slender legs.

Food Preferences

Bees – Bees are vegetarian and pollinators meaning that they will sip nectar from flowers to feed, they will also feed nectar and pollen to their young. Their flat hairy bodies are able to hold the pollen making it the ideal method of carrying it from one area to another. They are also able to drink water as well as bringing water back to their hive to clean it.

Wasps – A wasp tends to be more predatory in nature and likes to feast on other insects such as caterpillars and flies. They are very attracted to the smell of human food, especially sugary drinks and beer. They can also be attracted to food waste which is why they can often be found hovering around bins.


Bees – Bees tend to be gentle in nature and are quite reluctant to sting, however on the occasion that a bee does sting they will generally die, this is due to their stinger being barbed and by losing this it can cause bodily injury that will eventually kill the bee. Bees are rather sociable animals with colonies that have a population over 75,000, they build and maintain their hives which are made up of densely packed hexagonal cells made of beeswax, called a honeycomb, this is then used to store food and to house the next generations eggs, larvae and pupae. Honey bees don’t hibernate as they have enough food stored and enough heat accumulated by the thousands of workers meaning they have everything they need to survive the winter.

Wasps – A wasp is very easily provoked and due to them feeding on other insects they tend to have a much more aggressive nature in comparison to bees. Wasps are able to sting a target multiple times due to the stinger being smooth allowing it to slip out of its target with ease. A wasp is easily agitated and can sting even when being brushed away and, if a wasp is harmed or feels threatened, they will release hormones to mark a target ready for the swarm to attack. Wasps tend to be a lot less social than their cousins and tend to have fewer than 10,000 individuals in their colony, however wasps can also choose to live entirely on their own and make their own hive using wood or mud. Wasps tend to hibernate during the winter season and then build a new nest the following autumn.

We hope that this guide has given you some useful information to allow you to easily differentiate the difference between a bee and a wasp. If you find your home or workplace has become the victim of a bee or wasp infestation make sure you give us a call at Contego so that we can correctly remove your infestation problem.

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