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Wasps vs. bees: What's the difference?

The main difference between wasps and bees is that wasps have smooth bodies and narrow legs, while bees have hairy bodies and flat legs. It's important to know how wasps and bees are different, because people react differently to different types of stings. When a person is stung or bitten and there is a concern about the health risks, it's important to know the type of stinging pest involved in order for doctors to recommend the right kind of treatment.

During the warmer months, the chance of you or a family member running into some kind of stinging pest is pretty high. Although stinging pests like wasps, bees, and hornets can sometimes build nests inside a home, more than likely you'll find yourself reeling from a sting while outside. Flying stinging pests are as common at picnics and outdoor events as flies and mosquitoes, but they carry a hidden threat for those who are allergic to insect stings.

Western Exterminator Technicians are trained to know the difference between bees and wasps and offer the right stinging pest solution for you. Contact your local Western Exterminator office today if you fear you have a problem with bees and wasps.

What you should know about wasps


If you are at a picnic or carnival or outdoors when you find yourself stung by an insect, it's probably going to be a wasp. This is because wasps are more aggressive and predatory, meaning they are more likely to be around human food sources. Wasps will gladly feed their young other insects and other types of meat.

It's hard to immediately spot the difference between a wasp and a bee, especially if you're stung and don't get a chance to see the insect culprit. However, if you do get a chance to see the insect or even capture it, you will know it's a wasp from these characteristics:

  • Their body. It is smooth rather than hairy. Wasps actually do have tiny hairs all over their body, but they are generally too small to see with the naked eye.
  • Their waist. The wasps have a wide head, a very narrow waist, and then a larger rear section. Bees tend to have roundish bodies with no segmentation.
  • Their legs. Wasps have skinny, cylindrical legs.

The other thing to know is wasps do not lose their stingers when they sting. If you do not find a stinger protruding from the sting site, then you've likely been stung by a wasp.

Wasps are aggressive hunters. They actually head out of their nests and look for food. While some will spend a little time feeding off the nectar of flowers, this is not their primary food source. This is why their bodies are different - they've been designed by nature for hunting.

Wasps are generally more aggressive and likely to attack anything they think is a threat. If you find the wasp's nest hanging from a tree branch or under the eaves of the house, stay away from it. Wasps will attack if humans go too close to the nest. They also tend to defend their nests over longer distances than bees.

What you should know about bees


Bees are generally very different in temperament than wasps. In fact, it takes quite a bit of effort on your part to get a bee to sting. Bees prefer to eat nectar from flowers and other vegetable matter. They are less likely to be attracted to human food around picnics or other gatherings.

Some things to know about a bee's appearance:

  • Hairy bodies. Bees appear to have very hair bodies, including their legs. In fact, it almost looks like bees have fur.
  • Body shape. A bee's head and thorax seem to meld together into one large body part. They are also more round and bulbous in appearance.
  • Legs. Bees have hairy, flat legs. All of this hairiness is due to the bee's need to carry pollen from one area to the next. The pollen sticks to the legs and body so it can be moved from one flower to the next. This transportation of pollen is why bees are so key to the environment.

Bees are generally more docile than wasps. They prefer to spend their time with flowers than attacking humans. Their vegetarian diet does not require a predatory lifestyle. It would take handling bees or attacking their hive to actually cause bees to attack and sting.

Bees have barbed stingers, with an end that has a small part sticking up from the rest of the stinger. The shape causes the stinger to stay in the skin of whatever they have stung. Unfortunately for the bees, when they then take off after the sting, they are disemboweled and will eventually die.

Bees build hives, but they manufacture them out of a waxy substance in hexagonal shape with the various cells stacked upon each other. Within these hives, bees produce honey. Depending on the type of bee, they will build their nests underground, in the cavities of trees, inside buildings, etc. In fact, if you find a stinging pest inside your home, it may be a bee from a hive built inside the walls. There have even been cases of homeowners finding honey dripping from their wallpaper only to find a honey bee hive within the walls, where getting bee removal services is vital.

Western Exterminator stinging pest solutions

Wasps and bees are not something to take lightly, especially if you are allergic to insect stings or you have pets or children. Wasps can be very aggressive and trying to remove a wasp's nest on your own can lead to repeated stinging by the angry insects. Bees will also defend their nests if you attempt to remove them on your own.

Our specialists know the difference between bees and other stinging insects, and can recommend the best course of action, depending on the stinging insect near your home or business. To determine if you have bees or wasps around your home or property, contact your local Western Exterminator office and ask us about our stinging pest treatments today!

To determine if you have bees or wasps around your home or property, contact your local Western Exterminator office and ask us about our stinging pest treatments today!

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