What's The Difference Between Bees and Wasps?
Posted on March 16, 2012
You’re on a summer picnic, lounging in the sun with your eyes closed after eating your turkey sandwich. Something buzzes by your ear. You lazily swat at the sound and then — ouch! — you feel that familiar, aching sting on your cheek. As your face burns red and swells, the last thing on your mind is whether that pesky, no-good insect was a bee or a wasp.
But we at How Stuff Works want to know. Was it a bee that stung your cheek, or was it a wasp? What’s the difference between these two droning, stinging creatures?
In the preceding scenario, your attacker was most likely a type of wasp. Why? Because wasps are generally more aggressive and likely to stalk public gatherings in search of human food. Bees are more mild-mannered. They focus on the flowers, not your turkey sandwich.
That’s just one way to determine whether the attacker was a bee or a wasp. What other characteristics define these two very similar creatures — both of which belong to the order Hymenoptera? More than 25,000 kinds of each insect exist, but there are several relatively simple ways to distinguish between them.