Bees and Wasps
These flying insects are the larger, more round of the bee family. They are helpful for the environment because of their ability to pollinate crops as well as other plants. The bumblebee is considered a social insect because it lives with other bees in nests.
Color – Yellow & Black
Length – Up to 1 inch with an oval roundish shape
Diet – Their diet consists of pollen and nectar from plants. They will often take the food from the plants back to their nest to help feed the colony.
Habitat – Bumblebees can make nests in the ground or above ground. They can build their nests under decks, patios and in your home in the attic if they find access. Bumblebees will fiercely defend their nests if disturbed.
Impact – Their impact is mostly helpful given their assistance in pollination of plants and crops. However, if they are disturbed, they are able to chase the source of the disturbance a long distance and can sting more than once, since their stingers are smooth rather than barbed.
The honeybee is best known for the production of honey and the honey itself becomes a food source for them in the winter helping to sustain the colony. Found throughout the United States, they are very social bees living in large colonies. While their sting can be very painful, they are only able to sting one time since the stinger has a barbed shape and will often get lodged under the surface of the skin.
Color – Yellow, with brownish-black bands around the body.
Length – 1/2"
Diet – Their diet is mainly pollen, nectar and water. It is from this diet that inside their nest they produce honey, which is stored in honeycombs. The honey also becomes a source of food for their young during the winter months. The combination of the food source and size of the colonies allows some colonies to exist for years.
Habitat – Their nests can sometimes be found in holes and crevices of trees, but if they can find a way in, they have been known to make nests in attics and chimneys.
Impact – Honeybees are helpful for pollination of crops and the production of honey. However, around your home they can become a nuisance if they are allowed to build a nest. While a honeybee can sting only once, the sting can be quite painful and even more so if the stinger is not removed.
If honeybees are the “social” bees, the carpenter bees are the “anti-social” bees. A lone carpenter bee will make a nest only for itself and its young. Many bees do not live in the same nest or hive. Their name is derived from their ability to bore into wood and make nesting channels.
Color - Yellow and blue-black, without the stripes of a typical bee.
Length - 1” or less with an oval shaped body.
Diet - The carpenter bees collect nectar and pollen to bring back to the nest and feed their young.
Habitat - Typically, the carpenter bee will drill or bore into soft wood to lay their eggs. They can make channels reaching up to ten feet in length. The female deposits the wood dust outside the nest and it is up to the male to protect the nest.
Impact - The pollination they provide is helpful, but the carpenter bee has a smooth stinger and therefore can sting more than one time.
Bald Faced Hornet:
The bald faced hornet derives its name from the patches of white on their face, giving a “bald” appearance.
Color - Black & White
Length - 3/4"
Diet - They feed mainly on nectar and juice from fruit.
Habitat - Bald faced hornets live in large nests that hang from trees, bushes or other vegetation. They can also begin a nest right under the eaves of your home. The nest will often look round or oval, grey in color and can reach the size of a basketball if allowed to grow through the summer.
Impact - These insects will aggressively defend their space. Their stingers are smooth and so they are able to sting more than once. What sets them apart from a regular bee sting is that their sting injects venom into the victim. The venom can cause pain, swell and be itchy.
The European Hornet is typically larger than most other wasps at around 1" to 1 1/2" in length. They also differ in that while other wasps are in the nest at night, these insects will fly around at night. The queen in the nest is the only one to lay eggs and the other females gather food, build the nest, feed the young and protect the nest. There are a few males in the nest, but it is their sole responsibility to mate with the queen. Shortly after mating the males die.
Color - Black & Yellow
Length - 1 1/2”
Diet - Their diet consists of yellow jackets, bees, grasshoppers and flies. They also like juice from fruit, tree sap and other sweet things.
Habitat - They will typically find a protected place, like a hollowed out tree to build a nest. They do not make hives that hang free out in the open. If they can find their way in, they will live in walls that are hollow, sheds or barns.
Impact - These hornets can do some serious damage to trees and shrubs since they use the bark to help build their nests and then also feed on the sap of the tree. Like the bald faced hornet, they also bring a venomous sting to their prey and since their stinger is smooth, they also can sting multiple times.
These insects are social. They live in colonies that have queens, males and workers and will often hunt together. At the end of the season, the only one to survive a winter will be the queen who finds a hollow log to protect her from the harsh winter months.
Color - Black & Yellow
Length - 3/8” to 5/8”
Diet - They feed mainly on insects and spiders, but they also like meat and sweet human foods.
Habitat - Yellow jackets are not picky about where they nest, often building nests in the ground, on trees, holes in a wall or on shrubs. They prefer a cool dark place, and optimally around garbage which can be a major food source for them.
Impact - Since yellow jackets eat insects, and in some cases insects that destroy crops, they can be a help to farmers. However, like the other wasps, they have smooth stingers allowing them to sting multiple times and they also carry a small amount of venom with the sting.