Bees and their relatives pollinate flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables. With proper small bees and wasps identification, anyone will know that some of both species are parasites to many of the pest insects humans encounter.
Most people only focus on one attribute of these insects – their stingers, which they use to capture prey and defend their nest.
Though they are primarily a beneficial insect when their habits collide with people pest management may be required.
Bees and wasps are grouped based on their behavior, social or solitary. Social wasps live in large colonies associated with a paper nest and only exist for one season. Each colony consists of an egg-laying female and many sterile females called workers.
The males are produced only prior to mating swarms. Even though these wasps capture many different types of insects and thus are beneficial, the destruction of colonies is needed when they are in areas of high human activity. Solitary wasps do not produce workers that tend to their nest.
Each female is a “queen” and will make one nest or many nests for her offspring and then she abandons them. Solitary wasps do not readily defend their nests, so they are much less likely to sting.
One example of a social wasp is Yellow Jackets. These are only about 1/2 inch long and they normally build their nest underground nest. Their nest is usually constructed in an abandoned mammal nest or a small underground cavity.
These cavities are typically located under shrubs, logs, and piles of rocks. When the nest is disturbed yellow jacket workers can become extremely aggressive. There can be as many as 10,000 workers produced in a single colony in a single season.
Entrance holes are easily located by watching for fast-flying workers that are entering and leaving the nest.
Honey bees are very social and communicate with each other to relay information about the direction and distance of nectar and pollen sources. Honey bees build nests of combs with many waxen cells placed side by side that provide spaces to rear young and store honey.
Bees colonies are normally found in hollow trees but can work their way into wall voids of homes. A colony inside a home can cause major problems. Not only does the stored honey attract other bees and wasps, but their detritus (dead bees, wax caps from combs, etc.) attract beetles and moths.
Unlike wasps honey bees have barbed stingers that are strictly used for defending their nest. When a honey bee stings the stinger and its venom remain in the victim, and then die.
Cicada Killer wasps and carpenter bees fall into the classification of solitary. Both of these are very large in size and can look very intimidating, but neither one tends to aggressively guard their nests, which means they very rarely sting people.
Both will make a large hole for a nest to lay their eggs in. A cicada killer’s hole is typically in the ground and is about 1/2 inch wide, and the carpenter bee hole is found in exposed softwoods in areas like porches, decks, and eaves of homes.