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What is the difference between Wasp and Bee?

We explain that What is the difference between Wasp and Bee? by diet, habitat and morphological differences with comparison table to easily understand.

What is the difference between Wasp and Bee?

Bees and wasps are very similar insects. However, looking beyond the obvious similarities (that they fly, the well-known pain from their bites, that they build nests and colonies, etc.), we can see that they are very different insects. Each of these animals has its own patterns of behavior, food and, obviously, physical appearance.

When we see a wasp or a bee fly up to us and we get nervous, they can seem almost the same in terms of their appearance. Nothing is further from the truth, wasps and bees are very different insects both for their morphology and for their food and behavior.

In this AnimalWised article we are going to show you all the differences between wasps and bees , starting with their physical appearance, passing through their diet and habitat, and ending with their sting. Read on and learn to learn how to identify them.

Bees And Wasps

Confusing bees and wasps is simple for the inexperienced eye. Both insects look alike to the naked eye, they have the same colors, their size is similar, the buzz also, the two forms nests and most importantly and even annoyingly, they both have a stinger, which if it bites us, it can cause a lot of pain.

It is not strange that they are so similar, in the end both species belong to the hymenoptera order, specifically to the apocrita suborder , both having common ancestors and belonging to the same evolutionary branch, within the world of insects.

beeDespite the fact that both the sting of the warns and the bees is just as annoying and painful, both being insects that we do not want to have around us, we must be careful when it comes to getting rid of them. The big difference between bees and wasps is that the former produce honey . This simple fact makes them animals protected by law, as it is considered a livestock asset, since by producing honey to sell they are a source of income for beekeepers.

In addition to producing honey, they need pollen, which they extract from flowers. In doing so, pollen remains adhere to the hairy body of the bees and thus fertilize other flowers as they land, being one of the greatest natural pollination agents that nature has. Without bees, it would be much more difficult for flowers to spread their pollen and reproduce.

So when an alarming case of population decline among bees began to be detected, caused by pollution and use of pesticides, several countries in the world, decided to consider it as a protected animal . This does not mean that we have to live with them yes or yes, simply that they cannot be eliminated.wasp-med

If we want to get rid of them, we cannot use any pesticides or insecticides. We have to contact a professional, who will take care of capturing them and taking them to a beekeeper or leaving them free in a natural space where they cannot be a cause of annoyance to anyone.

Although logically, for killing a simple bee nobody will tell us anything, destroying a honeycomb is sanctioned by law, with severe fines as punishment . So before acting you have to distinguish the insect to fight, which will also help the specialist. If when we contact him, we can identify if he is a bee or wasp, he can act as soon as possible with the necessary equipment.

So in this article, we are going to give some guidelines so that everyone can distinguish if they are dealing with a bee or a wasp. When we see hundreds of species, we will only focus on the most common in our country, the bee and the European hornet.

European bee (Apis mellifera) : Herbivorous species that feeds on nectar and honey. They usually live in gardens, meadows and beehives, their size varies from 12 mm for the worker to 18 mm for the queen.

bee stingIts body is made up of three parts: the head, a thorax segmented into three parts that contains the legs and wings, and the abdomen with six visible segments that culminates in the stinger. The colors of this
species are golden tones with horizontal black lines on the upper part of the body. Another of its characteristics is its plump and hairy body, which is undoubtedly what will help us to distinguish it with the naked eye.

When it stings, it dies, as it sticks its stinger like a corkscrew. The bee is too weak to remove it without breaking its abdomen, dying on the spot. For this reason, unlike the European hornet, its character is usually more peaceful, attacking only in extreme cases.

European hornet (Vespa crabro) : Much larger than the European bee, the queen measures between 25 and 50 mm, the workers 18 and 25 mm, and the males between 21 and 28 mm. The abdomen is brown with yellow or orange markings and reddish brown on the thorax, the wings are reddish. However, what undoubtedly makes the most difference with bees is their body.European hornet (Vespa crabro)

Lacking hair, above all it differs from its sisters, by its waist. While the body of the European bee is plump and compact, that of the European hornet, its thorax and abdomen, are separated by a narrow waist. Hence the famous phrase having a wasp waist.

Unlike the bee, the hornet does not die when attacking. It is able to get rid of its stinger more easily, regenerating it over time. This makes them much more aggressive always being defensive of their hive and when they are around food sources.

Morphological differences between bees and wasps

Although there are several varieties of both bees and wasps, there are common characteristics for each species.

The wasps , for example, are black or dark brown and yellow, depending on the variety can be almost completely dark, as in the case of the Asian hornet. The bees instead are not bright yellow more or less dark and golden brown.

Wasps have their characteristic “waist”, a very narrow area that separates the thorax from the abdomen, while in the case of bees the narrowing is not so noticeable. In addition, the bee has a hairy appearance, as it has keratin hairs on the chest, face, abdomen and legs, while the wasp does not.

At a microscopic and functional level, the sting of bees and wasps is not the same , the highlight being the fact that bees can only sting once and after that they die, since their sting has spikes that make them tear the abdomen when trying to remove it. The stinger of wasps, which is part of their reproductive system, is smooth and therefore a wasp can sting repeatedly without putting its own life at risk.

As a curious fact, you should know that there are also wasps without wings.

The photograph shows a wasp.

Differences between wasps and bees - Morphological differences between bees and wasps

Due to their differences in food, the wasp always has powerful jaws with which to devour its prey, while the characteristic in the case of the bee is its proboscis or trunk to suck nectar from the flowers.

Bees feed on nectar , except for the queen bee, which consumes the so-called royal jelly. Be that as it may, bees are very specialized herbivores throughout their lives. On the other hand, wasps are carnivorous and generally parasitic during their larval stage, to also feed on plant matter in the adult stage. There are wasps that only live on nectar during their adult insect stage, although most wasps are omnivores that consume both plant matter and carrion. There are even wasps that attack hives to steal nectar and honey and feed on the larvae of bees.

The photo shows a bee.

Differences between wasps and bees - Differences in diet

The role of bees and wasps in the ecosystems where they live

Bees are nature’s most effective pollinators . Despite this, there are plant species that have linked their evolution to that of other pollinators, as is the case of some kinds of wasps or certain breeds of hummingbirds. Therefore, wasps are responsible for carrying out the pollination of very specific plant species.

On the other hand, the main function of the wasp in the ecosystems it inhabits is that of hunting other insects, both to deposit their eggs in them and to feed the larvae or even adults. However, wasps are sometimes introduced into crops to act as a natural pest control , similar to ladybugs and aphids.

The photograph shows a wasp.

Differences between wasps and bees - The role of bees and wasps in the ecosystems where they live

There are solitary wasps and social wasps, while all bee breeds are social or semisocial. Social wasps live in swarms built by kneading mud, just as they do with inner combs. The honeycombs of bees’ hives are always made of wax.

In the image you can see a honeycomb.

Differences between wasps and bees - Habitat and society of wasps and bees

And here we can see what a swarm of wasps looks like.

Differences between wasps and bees - Habitat and society of wasps and bees

Larvae and reproduction

In the case of bees, only the queen bee is capable of laying eggs , she is the only fertile female in the colony. When wasps live in society, something similar usually happens, although this is not always the case. In the case of solitary wasps, all females are fertile.

Bee larvae feed on nectar while wasp larvae are carnivorous. In fact, the first meal of the wasp larva is usually the insect itself on which the mother wasp deposited the eggs through its stinger.

Differences Between Wasps And Bees - Larvae And Reproduction

Other differences between bees and wasps

In wasps, the stinger only occurs in females , as it has a reproductive function. Through the stinger, the fertile wasps deposit the eggs of the future larvae, and the fact that the conduit serves to inject poison into their prey is not always true. Wasps can sting their prey repeatedly.

In bees, the stinger performs a defensive function and, therefore, it is always associated with the inoculation of poison. In general, bees are peaceful insects that only attack if they feel threatened as individuals or collectively, while wasps are usually aggressive insects. If this is the case and you have suffered a sting from one, do not miss our article in which we detail what to do when a wasp bites you .

A curious fact is that bees (and ants) evolved from wasps

Comparison Table

Bee Wasp
Taxonomy Animalia, Arthropoda, Insecta, Hymenoptera, Apocrita, Apoidea. Animalia, Arthropoda, Insecta, Hymenoptera .
What are they? Bees are often known to be honey producers, although not all are. These insects are the most important pollinators in the world. Also, they are social insects. Many live in hierarchical swarms in which there are 3 types of individuals; the queen, the workers and the drones. There are more than 20,000 species of bees. Wasps are all members of the order hymenoptera that are not bees or ants.

These are usually solitary animals, although some species make up colonies such as bees. Solitary species tend to have parasitoid behaviors. For example, some females tend to lay their eggs inside other insects so that their young feed on them and have a better chance after they are born.

Physical appearance Bees have a rounded body, with small hairs that completely cover it, called mushrooms. Their eyes are large, they have two pairs of wings, and their mouths are specialized to suck nectar.
They measure between 2 mm and 4 cm. They are usually yellow and black, although there are also brown, green, and other dark shades.
They usually measure 5-6 cm on average. Like bees, most have black and yellow stripes, however, there are also brown, blue, green, red wasps, etc. Wasps have long, thin bodies. Its abdomen is not round like that of bees, on the contrary, it is elongated and long.
Geographic location They are found on every continent except Antarctica. In the same way, there are wasps on every continent except Antarctica.
Feeding Bees feed on pollen and nectar. Nectar, fallen fruit, other insects, carrion, etc.
Bite Bees have a stinger that they do not hesitate to use when they feel attacked. Its venom may not cause much damage, however, there are people who are allergic to it, so extreme precautions are recommended. Their sting is not considered as painful as that of wasps. Wasps have a stinger that injects venom. Its sting is considered painful. So much so that that of the warrior wasp and that of the tarantula hunter are considered among the most painful insect stings. In some people, wasp stings can be fatal.

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