What are the Differences Between Bees and Wasps?

Wasps Vs Bees

With the thousands of species of bugs out there, it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart, especially bees and wasps. Both are known for their painful stingers and their diet of nectar. They also belong to the same order Hymenoptera, have yellow and black stripes, and travel in large colonies or whizz around by themselves.

However, distinguishing the two is crucial, especially if you suspect that you have a bee or wasp infestation problem in your home. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between bees and wasps, helping you determine if it’s time to control wasp control:

Stingers and Honey: Similarities and Differences

Honey bees have a barbed stinger connected to their digestive system. That means when it plunges its stinger into a potential predator, it cannot be withdrawn, which means it gets ripped off the bee’s body. As a result, the bee dies.

On the other hand, wasps are capable of repeatedly stinging since they can retract the stingers. Different bees are capable of similar abilities. It’s important to note that some Australian bees don’t have stingers at all.

Additionally, honey bees produce honey and beeswax, while wasps and other kinds of bees cannot. Bees are typically furry, but some native bees bear a smooth, shiny look. Wasps are also known to have some hair to them.

Morphology and Behaviour Differences

Bees and wasps can seem difficult to distinguish on paper, but they have some definitive differences, mainly in morphology and behaviour. For starters, bees are vegetarian due to their fundamental role as pollinators, which means they spend most of their time hopping from one plant to the other to gather pollen and nectar. While some adult wasps consume nectar and pollen and hang out around overripe fruit and other sugary sources, they are predatory, with insects as their favourite target. 

Bees have rotund bodies and flattened legs that are designed to help them collect pollen. Some species even have what are called pollen baskets on their hind legs to assist them in this. On the other hand, wasps have cylindrical bodies, with a tiny waist connecting their thorax and abdomen. They are sleeker, possessing slender legs, and bear a slim appearance to help them hunt more efficiently. Bees often retract their legs while flying to keep them less visible, whereas wasps leave them dangling. It’s important to note that wasps are especially attracted to lights during the evenings.

How Bees and Wasps Defend Themselves

Wasps do not possess wax-producing glands, so they use mud to build their nests. Some use weathered wood, which they chew and combine with saliva to create a papery substance, to construct large nests. Most bees and wasps hibernate during winter, but honeybees keep chugging along, subsisting on food reserves stored in their nests.

Bees defend themselves only when they detect a threat. However, wasps are natural predators, which means they’re naturally more aggressive and are easy to provoke. Wasp stings are more painful than bee stings, a distinguishing factor you wouldn’t want to find out yourself!


When wasps and bees whizz by, it can be tricky to tell them apart. However, by observing them and understanding their behaviour, you’ll realise which insect has made a house out of your home, allowing you to contact the appropriate pest control to solve the problem.

Clean and Green Pest is environmentally friendly pest control in Sydney that treats and eradicates all common pests found around homes and workplaces. We also provide possum removal and bird eradication services, ensuring your home is free of all kinds of pests. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your home!