Both wasps and bees are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects that also includes ants. Although they belong to the same order they are quite different in their purpose. Although both have the ability to sting wasps are the more aggressive species being able to sting multiple times, where as bees die if they sting a person.
Wasps are most active in the summer months in the UK. This is partly due to weather and only the Queens survives to hibernate during the winter months. They have a distinctive yellow and black body and are often confused with hornets despite hornets are not being as common in this country. Not only are they confused with hornets but bees as well especially honeybees which have a similar coloring and body shape. The best way to tell them apart is by the look of the body surface, wasps usually have a smooth body whilst bees are often plumper and hairy with their back legs being flat.
Wasps and The Food Chain
Wasps although annoying do play a vital part in the food chain. They prey on a much larger number of insect pests that feed on our crops and gardens. Further to this they will prey on flies and maggots. So although most of the time they are irritating they do serve an important roles to humans.
Although wasps are generally not aggressive if they feel threatened or feel their nest is under threat. They have the ability to sting multiple times. This can be an extremely painful and unpleasant experience. In the worst cases can lead to death if someone is allergic to their venom. Often wasps build their nest close to human homes. They can pose a threat to children who may not be aware of the dangers of wasps. If you have a nest in or around your home, it is important that you do not try to remove it yourself and instead seek professional help.
Honey bees have a barbed stinger in contrast to wasps who have a straight pointed stinger. If the barbed bee stinger penetrates the human skin. The bee is locked to the human and will die. It is a misconception that a bees can’t sting multiple times. Without the barb getting hooked, the bee can go onto sting again.
There are actually 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in much larger colonies than wasps that contain the queen bee, worker bees and drones. The main types of bees are the bumble bee, mason bee and honeybee. The honeybee is the only social insect whose colony can survive many years.
Bees can be dangerous if they feel threatened, however they tend not sting as often as wasps as they can only sting once before they die. Like a wasp sting they can be very painful and again in the worst cases cause death to a small percentage of people who are allergic to their venom.
Another difference between bees and wasps is that queen wasps build their nest for their colonies whereas worker bees build and maintain their colonies nest. Unlike wasps who hibernate during the winter honeybees do not, instead they live on food reserves and heat accumulated by the colony. Wasps do not create any forms of honey but all species of honeybees do and are able to produce and store large amounts of honey in their hives.