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Characteristics of common wasps and bees

While observers can easily confuse common wasps and bees at a distance or without close observation, there are many different characteristics of large bees and wasps that can be used to identify them.

  Bees (Family: Apidae) Wasps (Family: Vespidae)
Name Western honey bee Bumblebee Yellow Jacket Paper Wasp Bald-faced hornet European hornet Asian giant hornet (Japanese giant hornet)
Image Apis mellifera Female on white background.jpg Bombus fraternus, f, ga, baker, side (16429111109) -white background.jpg European wasp white bg.jpg Polistes dominula MHNT.jpg Bald-faced Hornet (Vespidae, Dolichovespula maculata (Linnaeus)) (32512319833) white background.jpg AD2009Aug08 Vespa crabro 01.jpg Male Vespa mandarinia - white background.jpg
Colors Amber to brown translucent alternating with black stripes.[1] (video) Exact pattern and colouration varies depending on strain/breed. Yellow with black stripes, sometimes with olive, brown, orange-brown, red,[2] or as in Bombus pratorum, dark.[3] Black and opaque bright yellow stripes. (video) Dusty yellow to dark brown or black. (video) Black and ivory white markings. (video) Black and dark body with yellow.[4] (video) Black and gold body with orange. (video)
Coat Furry (short hair). Furry (long hair). Little or no hair. Some hair.
Size 1.3 cm (0.51 in) 2.5 cm (0.98 in)[5] 1.3 cm (0.51 in) 1.9 to 2.5 cm (0.75 to 0.98 in) up to 3.0 cm (1.2 in) up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in) up to 4.0 cm (1.6 in)
Legs Not generally visible while flying.[6] Two thin long legs are visible hanging down during flight.[7] There are no pollen baskets.
Behavior Gentle.[8][9] Gentle.[8][9] Aggressive.[9] Extremely Aggressive [9][10][11][12]
Food Pollen and nectar from flowers. Other insects, overripe fruit, sugary drinks, human food and food waste, meat.[13] Other insects.
Sting Kills bee;[14] continues pumping. Barbed. Retracts; can repeat. Smooth.
Sting Pain[15] 2 2 2 (Vespula pensylvanica) 1.5-3 depending on species 2 2.x[16][citation needed] 4.0+[17][not in citation given]
Lights Not attracted to lights at night unless nest is disturbed, or light is placed near hive. Attracted to lights at night.[18][19]
Lives in Large colonies of flat, wax-based honeycomb hanging vertically. Small cavities in the soil. Small umbrella-shaped papery combs hanging horizontally in protected spaces such as attics, eaves or soil cavities. Large paper nest, upside down pear shaped, hanging from branches and eaves.[20] Very large paper nest in hollow trees, sheltered positions.[21]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ that is in general. Some are mostly black
  2. ^ http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/
  3. ^ Benton, Ted (2006). "Chapter 9: The British Species". Bumblebees. London, UK: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 338–342. ISBN 0007174519.
  4. ^ there are different geographic colour forms
  5. ^ or more
  6. ^ Light-colored pollen on the pollen baskets on a honeybee's rear legs can be visible.
  7. ^ This generally only applies to paper wasps. Yellow jackets' legs are not generally visible while flying.
  8. ^ a b Domesticated bees have been selected over time for gentleness. There are several races of domesticated honey bees with varying characteristics of honey production, disease resistance and gentleness.
  9. ^ a b c d Aggressive hive defense
  10. ^ Ross, Piper (2007). Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-0-313-33922-6.
  11. ^ http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131004-giant-hornet-insects-attacks-china-animals-science/
  12. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/03/world/asia/hornet-attack-china/
  13. ^ Yellow jackets are carnivorous during the brood rearing part of the season. They feed insects to their brood, and obtain the sugar for their flight-muscle energy mostly from secretions of the brood. During this time they can be attracted to traps baited with meat or fish. Near the end of summer, when brood rearing ceases and this sugar source is no longer available, yellow jackets become frantic for sugar, and can be baited with sugar-based baits. They are also much more likely to visit fall flowers for nectar, than they are earlier in the season.
  14. ^ Since the barbed stinger evolved as a colony defense against vertebrates, the invariable outcome of stinging a mammal or bird is that the stinger becomes lodged in the victim's skin and tears free from the honey bee's body, leading to her death within minutes. As such, there is rarely any evolutionary advantage for a bee to sting a mammal to defend itself as an individual; honey bees will generally only sting when the hive is directly threatened and honey bees found in the field or on a flower will rarely sting.
  15. ^ Unless otherwise noted, sting pains are from The sting of the Wild by Justin O. Schmidt. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 2006, pp.226-229
  16. ^ mainly European hornet. Other species may be more aggressive and have a more toxic sting[citation needed].
  17. ^ http://www.vespa-crabro.com/vespa-mandarinia.htm
  18. ^ "Non-Honey Bee Stinging Insects in North Carolina". NC State Extension Publications. NC State University. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  19. ^ Lawrence, Neil. "Pest Control Advice - Wasps". www.oxford.gov.uk. Oxford City Council. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  20. ^ Also barns, attics
  21. ^ Has a brown, protective layer when the nest is in an unsheltered position. Also barns, attics, hollow walls and abandoned bee hives

Further readingEdit

  • N. R. Levick; J. O. Schmidt; J. Harrison; G. S. Smith; K. D. Winkel (2000). "Review of bee and wasp sting injuries in Australia and the U.S.A. § Bees versus wasps: Appearance, Behaviour, and Venom chemistry". In Andrew D. Austin; Mark Dowton. Hymenoptera: evolution, biodiversity and biological control. Csiro Publishing. pp. 439&ndash, 440. ISBN 978-0-643-06610-6.
  • P. Gopalakrishnakone (1990). "Differences between wasps and bees". A Colour guide to dangerous animals. NUS Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-9971-69-150-9.
  • Philip B. Mortenson (2008). "Bee · Wasp · Hornet · Ant". How to tell a turtle from a tortoise: a close look at nature's most confusing terms. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0-7607-9002-1.
  • Kevin T. Fitzgerald; Rebecca Vera (2006). "Insects — Hymenoptera". In Michael Edward Peterson; Patricia A. Talcott. Small animal toxicology (2nd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN 978-0-7216-0639-2.

External linksEdit