Bee on a Flower

There are over 4,000 species of bees native to North America and several species of wasps and hornets as well. You are all too aware of the declining bee population, but you know another thing as well: bees sting, as do their nasty cousins, the hornet and the wasp.

Luckily, the intention of many stinging insects is to only attack when provoked or threatened, but that doesn't mean you want these flying, stinger-laden creatures buzzing around your home or yard. Learning how to tell the difference between bees, hornets, and wasps will help you decide how to deal with the intrusion you are facing.


If the swarming insects surrounding your home or certain areas of your yard appear to be chasing you or you get stung more often than not, you are dealing with hornets or wasps. Bees are only able to sting one time, making them more likely to retreat from attack than go full throttle.

Wasps and hornets can sting multiple times (and often do), with wasps being the more aggressive of the two scavenging bugs. Avoid nests you suspect may be active wasp, bee, or hornet dwellings, as you will encounter a protective attack if you get too close.

Size and Color

With the exception of the rounded and large bumblebee, most bee species are actually quite small. Bees are a dingy yellow, brown, rusty red, or light orange hue with black striping. They are known for their fuzzy bodies, ideal for catching pollen to take to their hives.

Wasps and hornets are much larger than bees, with wasps being very slender in the torso and appearing to be shaped in sections. Hornets resemble flat-coated bees in their body design, although they are much larger than most bees and very colorful.

While the classic color of all three types of insects is yellow and black striping, some species (like the mud wasp) are very nearly solid black or contain very little yellow. Still other species are black and white instead of yellow. Your pest control specialist will help you identify the type of insect you have invading your home along with detailing the exact species you are dealing with.


Bees create a honeycomb hive with small sections filled with nectar and honey to feed their young. Wasps and hornets create large nests with sections as well to protect and grow their own young.

You can tell a beehive from a wasp nest by the way it appears on the outside: wasp and hornet nests are made of paper-like material, while beehives are constructed with beeswax.

Bees also tend to create their hives in protected areas such as under logs, in exposed areas of roofs, and in large holes. Wasp and hornet nests are almost always found in a tree.


Do you see stinging creatures lingering around your garden or landing on your flowers? If so, you are probably dealing with a bee intrusion, and the little insects are simply seeking pollen for their hives. Your pest control expert will handle any beehives with great care to avoid stressing the unwanted (but needed) guests within.

If your swarming invading guests are constantly buzzing around your garbage cans, mulch piles, or pet dishes, then wasps or hornets are probably what you have. Wasps and hornets are scavengers and meat eaters, thriving on rotting vegetation, meat and garbage.

The best way to tell whether you have bees, hornets, or wasps on your property is to stay away from any nests you see and call your pest control expert. Our team at Blackburn Pest Control is happy to assist you in all your pest removal needs. Call us today for an appointment or for emergency service.