Differences between wasps and bees


Not only do some insects differ from others in terms of the physical, but they have a very different behavior, especially in relation to food

These are direct relatives and many times we confuse them because of their resemblance. Believe it or not, there are more differences between bees and wasps than you suppose. We tell you in this article.

1. Chromatic differences

At first glance, both insects are yellow and black. However, there are some differentiations. To get started, the wasps are dark brown or black with very bright yellow lines. Some species - like the Asian ones - are completely black.

Bees, on the other hand, have a brown body and yellow stripes are more defined, but less bright or striking.

2. Physical differences

Surely you know the saying that "has a wasp waist" when we refer to someone thin. This is because the wasps have a narrower area between the thorax and the abdomen. This does not happen in bees, who also have hairs on most of the body. His relatives are not hairy.

3. Differences in the stinger

Without a doubt, it is one of the main differences between wasps and bees. The latter can only bite once, and its sting has a kind of ‘skewers’ that cling to the victim. When he is nailed and tries to detach himself, he tears the insect's abdomen and dies instantly.

The wasp, on the other hand, has a smooth stinger (it is part of its reproductive system and only females have it), with which it can sting several times without putting its life at risk. That's why it is said that wasps are more dangerous than bees!

4. Food differences

Bees consume nectar from flowers, except the queen, who consumes the real royal jelly ’. The workers are in charge of looking for food and taking it to the hive. How? First they suck it with a tube and then transport it on their legs and body.

The wasps have powerful jaws that allow them to devour their prey: it is an omnivorous insect that can consume leaves, carrion, honey and even larvae of bees, who attack by entering the honeycomb to steal.

5. Role differences

This is another difference between wasps and most important bees. The first can be a Very important agent to avoid pests of certain small insects, such as aphids. This is because they feed on the larvae.

That does not mean that the role of bees is not highlighted ... On the contrary! These are the pollinators par excellence throughout the planet. Thanks to pollen transport, many plants reproduce. As they say, without bees, there would be no life.

6. Social differences

When they talk to us about bees, we automatically relate it to a hive and, of course, to honey. This insect is almost always social or semisocial, so your life develops in a group. Inside a colony we find the queen bee (the only fertile female), the drones (males responsible for reproducing with the queen) and the workers (sterile females who take care of all the work).

As for the wasps, although there are several species that form swarms, the truth is that it is a rather solitary animal and competitive with the rest of its counterparts. This is because he has to find food to survive and cannot "share it" with his relatives.

They are likely to use an abandoned honeycomb to rest, but they will not have as much teamwork as their cousins. And something else: wasps hibernate, bees don't.

7. Reproductive differences

The last of the differences between wasps and bees has to do with reproduction. In the case of the bees, these have only one responsible for laying eggs: the queen. Wasps only act that way if they live in society. But when they are lonely, all females can conceive.

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, they are black or dark brown and yellow, and depending on the variety they can be almost completely dark, as in the case of the Asian wasp. The bees on the other hand they are brown, more or less dark and golden, not bright yellow.

The 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.

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

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

The picture shows a wasp.

Differences in the diet

Because of its differences in food, the wasp always has powerful jaws with which to devour its prey, while the characteristic thing in the case of the bee is its proboscis or tube to release nectar from the flowers.

Bees feed on nectar, with the exception of the queen bee that consumes the so-called royal jelly. Be that as it may, bees are very specialized herbivores throughout their lives. On the other hand, the 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 of the wasps are omnivorous that consume both plant and carrion matter. There are even wasps that attack hives to steal nectar and honey and feed on the larvae of bees.

The picture shows a bee.

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

The bees are the more effectivepollinators of the nature. Despite this, there are plant species that have linked their evolution to that of other pollinators, such as some kinds of wasps or certain races of hummingbirds. Therefore, the wasps are responsible for carrying out the pollination of very specific plant species.

Instead, the main wasp function in ecosystems that lives is that of a hunter of other insects, both to deposit their eggs in them and to feed the larvae or even adults. However, sometimes wasps are introduced into the crops so that they act as natural pest controller, similar to what happens with ladybugs and aphids.

The picture shows a wasp.

Wasps and bees and bees society

There are solitary wasps and social wasps, while all bee races are social or semi-social. The social wasps live in swarms built by kneading mud, just as they do with the inner combs. The honeycombsof bee hives They are always composed of wax.

The image shows a honeycomb.

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

The larvae and reproduction

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

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

Other differences between bees and wasps

In the wasps the sting only occurs in females, because it has a reproductive function. Through the stinger the fertile wasps lay the eggs of future larvae, and the fact that the duct serves to inject poison to their prey is not always fulfilled. Wasps can bite their prey repeatedly.

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

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Physical differences between bees, wasps and bumblebees

Most of the differences between these insects are physical and are the ones that help us to distinguish them more quickly and, for these reasons, it is very convenient to know them well. Thus, although there are various species and subspecies of the three types of insects and, therefore, there may also be differences and similarities between the directly related species themselves, these are the main physical differences between bee, wasp and bumblebee:

  • The color:the bees are brown and yellow and have hair, bumblebees have soft hair with yellow, orange, white and dark brown or black stripes and, finally, the wasps are usually black, or dark brown, with bright yellow stripes and they have hardly any hair, and may seem at first glance that they do not have at all.
  • Hair: as we have said, the wasps barely have and the bees and bumblebees do. In addition, bumblebees have much more hair throughout the body, something that gives them the advantage of better withstanding the cold, wind, rain and other environmental problems that the other two species of insects can not bear well.
  • The size: The extent of these insects also varies. Specifically, bees usually measure 15 mm to 20 mm queens, bumblebees have a size of around 20 mm and wasps can vary much more in size, ranging from 10 mm to 35 mm, depending on the species.
  • The stinger and the poison: It is known by most that stinging bees die, but why? This happens due to the type of stinger they have, as it is fixed and has hooks to be firmly fixed on the skin of the sting target, and they cannot retrieve and store it. In addition, the venom gland that is linked to the stinger is directly linked to its intestines. This does not happen in bumblebees and wasps, since the former have it fixed but it is not attached to their intestines and the latter have a retractable and smooth stinger. The venom of bumblebees and bees is rather acidic, while that of wasps is alkaline.

In the main image of the article we can see a bee, while the image under these lines is of a bumblebee.

Difference in bee, wasp and bumblebee sting

Another way to distinguish these insects is to look at the way they bite, from the buzz they make when approaching to the way they bite and the result. To start, the noise or buzz that we hear when they hover near us, bumblebees are much louder than bees or wasps, except in the case of large wasps that may also have a very noisy hum.

As for the sting, as we have commented before, the poisons are different, so to treat the bites you have to use opposite substances to neutralize the poison in each case. For example, in the case of bee sting that has acid poison we will use alkaline substances. The big difference when itching is that when they bite the bees leave the stinger and die and the other two insects do not, but there are also more different things between these insects regarding their way of biting. For example, the most aggressive are the wasps, although they do not usually bite but usually bite, and if they sting their stinger it is not stuck, instead bumblebee sting is less frequentWell, it is rarely itchy since it is quieter. In addition, we must think that these insects only attack us when they have felt intimidated or threatened by us.

In the image below we can see a wasp up close.

Differences in the society of bees, wasps and bumblebees

We find more differences in the way of life of these insects. To get started, bees and bumblebees always live in society or in semi-society, while the wasps can be solitary or social, according to their specific species. Wasps use mud to make their swarms and bees and bumblebees use wax to build their hives. In addition, only some species of bees make honey, in fact they are known as honey bees, while the other two insects do not.

These animals are one of the main routes by which pollinate plants, something vital for life to remain on the planet as we know it, specifically this is bumblebee and bee function In nature. In fact, the former is much more effective than the latter, due to the fact that it endures more extreme conditions, thanks to its larger size and hair, and therefore pollinates for longer and longer distances. Instead, the function of the wasps is to be hunters or predators of other insects.

In the image we can see a honeycomb.

Difference in the diet of the bee, the wasp and the bumblebee

Finally, another great difference between bee, wasp and bumblebee It is the way they feed. The wasps have powerful jaws that serve to feed on other insects, leaves and flowers, they don't feed on nectar like bees and bumblebees, although there are some species that do eat nectar when they are adults. So while the wasps are omnivorous because mostly they hunt insects and eat plants, bees and bumblebees always feed on nectar and therefore they have a tube or proboscis to release the nectar.

In addition, the wasps not only hunt insects to eat them, but there are some species that hunt them to lay their eggs in them and, therefore, in the larva phase they are parasitic.

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