Wasps and bees have a lot in common, but there are plenty of ways to tell the difference between them. If you’re not sure what’s causing that constant buzzing out in your yard, these tips will help you find out.
In this video from the SciShow YouTube channel, host Hank Green goes over the scientific differences between wasps, hornets, and bees, and how you can identify their nests based on their appearance.
Bees and wasps are closely related, but bees evolved from wasps around 130 million years ago when some wasps decided to switch from being hunters to pollen gatherers. Hornets are a type of wasp known as “social wasps” because they live together in colonies constructed out of a paper-like substance. Here’s how to tell what kind of nest you’re looking at:
- If it’s an open nest with hexagonal cells, and it’s shaped like an umbrella, that’s home to some paper wasps. There’s usually less than 100 paper wasps that live in these colonies.
- If the nest has smooth walls and is shaped like a football, that’s home to some hornets.
- If you see wasps constantly going in and out of a hole in the ground or in a building, those are probably predatory wasps. Their nests can hold up to a couple thousand individual wasps.
- If you see a nest made of a waxy substance, you’re almost certainly looking at a bee hive.
Almost all “social bees,” like the bumble bee and honey bee, make their colonies with similar materials, so the nest you’re looking at isn’t always easy to identify. The main difference between the two is where they’re located. Bumble bee nests are smaller, and are built in abandoned rodent dens, thick grass, sheds, or trees. Honey bee hives are often in more protected areas, like the inside of a hollow tree, inside a wall, or beekeeper boxes.
Also, honey bee hives are usually more organised and have hexagonal cells in the hive. So if you hear a lot of buzzing near you, now you can identify what kind of insect you’re dealing with.
Wasp Nests and Bee Hives [YouTube]