Is That a Bee or a Wasp? | Dr. Killigan’s

What’s the Difference Between Wasps and Bees?

Spring months are not too far off, and soon families will begin to make their way outdoors. Pool covers will be pulled back, barbecues will begin to be fired up, and sheds will be visited to bring out mowers and garden tools. Everyone looks forward to warmer days, but they also have something to fear: the pests that follow. Those buzzing insects that make one dash back inside. Fears only grow, especially when you don’t know what it is you’re afraid of. So, we are going to help you to understand what’s the difference between wasps and bees.

What are Wasps?

Both wasps and bees are part of the same family of insects called Apocrita. This group is interestingly also related to ants. All the same, but quite different. 


Wasps can be distinguished by their shape and color. They are long and slender with black and bright yellow striping. There are three types of wasps you want to be on the lookout for.

  • Yellow jackets – ½ inch long with yellow and black markings. 
  • Paper wasps½ inch to 1.5 inches long with dark brown with black wings and yellow markings.
  • Potter wasps – ¾ inch long. Long, thin thorax with a large abdomen with black and yellow markings


They are most active during warm days in search of small insects to feed the larvae back at their wasp nest. They do a little pollination, but not as much as their cousin the bee.


The one primary danger you need to be wary of is their stinger. A wasp sting is strong, and unlike the bee, the barb does not detach after penetration. A wasp can sting multiple times.

What are Bees?

In addition to sharing a family tree with ants and wasps, bees can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Bees are responsible for pollination. One-third of the human food supply depends on insects like bees for pollination.


Bees are much smaller than wasps. They are generally around ½ inch in length. And are covered in tiny hairs as opposed to the sleek and shiny body of the wasp. Bees have all black heads and a brown and dull orange patched body. The top three types of bees you’ll come across are:

  • Honeybees½ inch long with golden brown bodies and black abdominal stripes.
  • Bumblebeeslarger than a honey bee with black body and a coating of dense yellow and black hairs.
  • Carpenter bees – they are similar to the bumblebee, but a miniature version. They also prefer wood than honeycomb for nesting.


Just as the wasp, they are active during the warm spring and summer months, where they help further the pollination process. The surviving queen begins to seek hibernation when the weather turns colder. 


A bee sting, just as any sting or bite, can be dangerous to the one who is allergic to the venom of the bite or sting. Unlike a wasp, who can sting multiple times, once a bee stings you, its barb is broken off. This is part of the danger. The stinger must be removed to prevent infection. The bee, with the loss of the stinger, will die.

What are Other Bee and Wasp Differences?

Other than features, activity, and danger levels, there are a couple of differences between the bee and the wasp you should know.

  • Wasp larvae are carnivorous. When a wasp queen lays her eggs, she also deposits a paralyzed insect. This will serve as the larvae’s meal when it hatches. Bee larvae are fed pollen and honey.
  • Bees pollinate; wasps do not. Pollination is what keeps the ecosystem going. It is part of the bee’s daily schedule and handiwork. If it weren’t for bees, we would be in a world of trouble. But, for a wasp, pollination is not part of their job. The wasp is a predatory insect, mainly hunting insects like spiders and aphids. However, this is still a good thing. It serves as a form of pest control, protecting against overpopulation of those very insects that damage crops and other vegetation. You can say the bee helps spread the pollen that continues our life cycle. The wasp is the cousin that protects it by fending off the predators that threaten it.  

How Do I Get Rid of Wasps and Bees?

While each of these insects is beneficial to the world around us, they do happen to get into places where they are not intended to or are unwanted. Namely, your home, around your outdoor entertainment areas, or your sheds and garages. When you have children or pets around only complicate things. The first thing you’ll want to know is the difference between the two, in case of a bite or sting. Next, you’ll want to know how to dispose of them. 

Dr. Killigan’s Six Feet Under ™  is an on-contact bee and wasp spray that is toxin-free and safe to use around pets and children. Once the pests are under control, remove the nest and clean up the area. Then ensure that there is nothing in the area that will attract future nests: open or overfilled trash cans, standing water, and pet or animal messes.

The Final Word

Our dream is your dream, a life without bugs. So, we are continually raising the bar to perfect the art of “Killing Them Softly” ™. That is why all of Dr. Killigan’s products are 100% safe and toxin-free. We want to give you peace of mind and to return “classy” back to your home. We do this through effective pest control methods with a design that is pleasing to the eye. If you are not satisfied with our products, please contact us and we will not hesitate to make things right.