When most homeowners see a flying pest, they just guess whether it’s a bee, hornet, yellow jacket, or a wasp. Knowing which has made a nest near your home is important, not just so that you know how to get rid of it in the best way possible, but also to know if the nest even poses a threat to you or your family. Mike Floorwalker at Knowledge Nuts highlights the differences between bees, wasps, and hornet and why not all flying, stinging insects are created equally.
There are more than 20,000 different types of bees, but the most common ones are bumble bees. Those are the fat oval bees that are generally harmless and pollinate crops, carpenter bees that can drill through wood, honey bees that are responsible for pollinating our crops, and the Africanized killer bee, which gets its dangerous moniker from the fact they will attack in swarms, which can be deadly for those who are allergic to bees.
According to Floorwalker, it is possible to distinguish bees from wasps because bees are furry while wasps are not. The bee also uses pollen to make honey, which they eat in the winter, while wasps are carnivores. Bees are golden in color while hornets are black and white or black and yellow. Unfortunately for the bee, when they sting they usually die, but wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets do not lost their stingers. Also unfortunate, yellow jackets in particular will sting unprovoked.
When it comes to attacking, bees are, generally speaking, not aggressive. Honey bees and bumble bees in particular would much rather avoid human contact unless they are bothered. When a honey bee stings a person or animal they leave behind the stinger, their abdomen, digestive track, muscles, and nerves which is a death sentence. There is little benefit to the hive for bees to die attacking humans, and when humans leave honey bees alone, there is little to fear.
While bees may not be aggressive, wasps are aggressive and they do not die after stinging a person or animal. Hornets and yellow jackets are two types of wasp, and they all will attack unprovoked and will attack in large swarms, particularly if their hives and nests are disturbed-intentionally or unintentionally. While bees are important in the pollination of the food supply, wasps do not have the same effect on agriculture. Instead of collecting pollen, they are carnivorous, with their diet consisting of other insects.
Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets all look alike and can range in size from 1/3 of an inch to larger than one inch. Nests of wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets can be found in many of the same places that we enjoy outside, eaves of roofs, hanging from gutters, in the protected corners of houses, and in trees, attics, patios, and shrubs. The government of Manitoba Canada put together a useful pamphlet that can be found here in helping to identify and remove nests of dangerous pests like wasps.
Knowing which type of flying pest has invaded your garden, back yard, or even your house, is very important in knowing how to get rid of it. For example, if you notice a handful of yellow flying critters emerging from a hole in your yard, chances are better than not that you have yellow jackets which like to nest underground in the empty burrows of rodents. For people who have allergies, something as innocuous as mowing the lawn could result in a deadly attack; the yellow jackets can sense the vibrations from the mower from a distance, resulting in an unprovoked attack of thousands. Nests that are high up are more likely to be wasps and hornets. They are just as dangerous as yellow jackets, especially to small pets and those who are allergic to their venom.
Before eliminating a hive though, it is best to be sure what exactly has made your house their home. Due to their passive nature, when a homeowner finds a bee hive, instead of killing the entire hive, they should have a professional relocate the hive. Humans rely on bees to pollinate the food supply, and with colony collapse disorder wiping out hives across the country, it is even more important for people not to destroy hives when they are found. According to the United States Department of Agriculture managed honey bee colonies add at least $15 billion to the value of the agriculture industry in the United States.
When coming face to face with wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets, it is important to eliminate the threat to your family as well as the potential damage they can cause your home when building nests in between walls and on support beams. Raid, a leader in the pest removal industry helping homeowners take back their homes from bugs and insects, suggests that the best way to get rid of a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket problem is to deal with the nest when it is small. Raid, along with other products all available in hardware stores, can be used to kill the flying stinging critters, from a safe distance.