Understanding the Difference Between Bees and Wasps

Bees and wasps can be difficult to tell apart. They both fly and sting. And many times, they even both have yellow and black stripes. However, understanding the difference between bees and wasps is important. Bees help pollinate plants and create honey and are usually harmless unless they feel threatened, while wasps are predators and can be a nuisance. 

Today, we will discuss the difference between wasps and bees, including their appearance and diet and how they make their nests. Continue reading to learn more, or if you have wasps in or around your home, contact the Sacramento pest control experts at Earthwise Pest Management for safe and effective wasp removal.


Bees and wasps often look alike, which is one of the reasons that they are so commonly confused with one another. However, wasps and bees do have quite a few differences in their appearance. Once you understand these differences, it becomes easier to tell them apart. 


Bees tend to be rounder in shape than wasps. They almost appear fuzzy from the hair, which allows them to collect and disseminate pollen. While appearance can vary slightly between species, bees typically have black and yellow stripes. 


Wasps are thinner compared to bees. They have skinny legs and are not hairy. They can range in color from yellow and black stripes similar to bees to black and metallic greens and blues. Wasps have segmented bodies and can appear almost shiny. Yellowjackets are the type of wasp that is most commonly confused with bees. 


While bees and wasps may visually look alike, their diets are extremely different. Bees tend to be vegetarians, while wasps are predators. 


A bee’s diet consists of plant pollens and nectar. They don’t consume other animals. Instead, they fly from flower to flower, pollinating them as they eat. 


Wasps eat other arthropods and insects for the most part. They will also scavenge for sweet food, drinks, and carbohydrates in the latter half of the summer. This is also the time when wasps become more of a nuisance to people.  


The way that bees and wasps build their nests is also incredibly different and can vary from species to species. Some bees and most wasps have a one-year life cycle and only live in their nest for a year, while others continue to live for years in the same hive. 


Bees make their nests or hives from wax. Honey bees are perennial insects and will live in their nest for years as long as the colony is healthy. However, bumblebees have a one-year life cycle and only use their nest for one year. 


Wasps typically die off during the colder season, so they use their nest for just one year. Wasps chew wood particles to make paper to create their nests. 


Bees and wasps differ significantly in their aggression levels, which impacts how they should be handled.


Bees are generally non-aggressive and will only sting when provoked or to defend their hive. 


Wasps, such as yellow jackets and paper wasps, can exhibit aggressive behavior, especially near or within their nests. Wasps are more likely to sting without much provocation and can attack in swarms if they feel their nest is threatened.

Bee Stings Versus Wasp Stings

Understanding the differences between bee stings and wasp stings can help in effectively responding to and managing encounters with these stinging insects. Bee stings involve a barbed stinger that detaches from the bee and remains in the skin, releasing venom over time. This ultimately kills the bee. Wasps, including common varieties like paper wasps and yellow jackets, possess a smooth stinger that allows them to sting multiple times without harming themselves. Wasp stings are generally more painful than bee stings and can cause more pronounced swelling and redness.

Professional Pest Control for Bees and Wasps

Managing bees and wasps requires a careful and knowledgeable approach to ensure effective control while minimizing harm, especially to beneficial bee populations. Earthwise Pest Management offers professional pest control services tailored to manage and remove wasp nests and, when possible, safely relocate bee hives. Our services include:

  • Wasp Nest Removal: We safely remove wasp nests from residential and commercial properties, addressing the root of your wasp problem.
  • Bee Conservation: We aim to protect bees, crucial pollinators, by relocating hives instead of destroying them.
  • Preventive Solutions: Our team also focuses on preventive measures to deter future nesting and reduce the likelihood of wasp and bee problems.

Contact Us for Bee and Wasp Control Services in Sacramento and Nearby Areas

For reliable and humane bee and wasp control services in Sacramento and the surrounding areas, contact Earthwise Pest Management. Our experienced team understands the unique behaviors of various wasp species, including aggressive paper wasps and protective yellow jackets, and we apply this knowledge to address and resolve your stinging insect concerns. We can safely and efficiently remove wasp nests from your home, attic, garage, and more. Reach out today to ensure your environment is safe and free from the threats posed by wasps and bees. Contact us today to learn more about our wasp removal services.