Essential Facts About Yellow Jackets vs. Honey Bees

Category: Pest Control

As a pest control company we help property owners with various types of stinging insects throughout the year. There are common invaders such as wasps, hornets, and various bees.

If you’re finding bees or wasps invading your property and decide to call a pest management professional (or bee exterminators in old terminology), there is a primary question you should be able to answer before you even pick up the phone or send an email.

exposed exterior yellow jacket nest

Differentiating Between Honey Bees and Wasps

“Do you know what kind of bees or wasps you have?”  While pest identification is important down to the specific offender, there really is one primary identification that is essential for you to be able to assess.

Do you have honey bees or another stinging insect? This is extremely important to the pest control companies you may call to kill wasps because they won’t control honey bees.

This insect is an extremely beneficial pest that cannot be treated and needs to be removed alive by a beekeeper. Your pest control company (or exterminator in old terminology) won’t be able to help you.

People most often call us having a Yellow Jacket colony taking up residence in a wall void or in a hole in the ground.

However, they can occasionally have aerial nests similar to what you may be accustomed to with that of hornets.

Overall, there are a lot of misconceptions about wasps and bees. People rarely consider the fact that they may indeed have honey bees.

Knowing the difference before placing your call could save you a lot of aggravation and get your issue remedied quicker.

Honey Bee vs Yellow Jacket

Essential Facts About Yellow Jackets vs. Honey Bees

  • Yellow jackets are a type of wasp. They are not bees. Honey Bees are….well, bees. There are also some other types of bees and wasps in our area.
  • Honey bees have hairs or fuzz on their bodies. Yellow jackets do not, they are smooth and shiny.
  • Honey bees and yellow jackets both have similar coloring of black and yellow variations. However, honey bees are typically more amber where yellow jackets are very bright yellow.
  • Both can both occupy walls and enter and exit through small structures.
  • Both can sting, but yellow jackets can sting multiple times. Honey bees will die shortly after they sting.
  • Both have large colonies that can become aggressive when provoked. However, yellow jackets are more inclined to pick a fight if you’re even nearby.
  • Honey bees need to be removed by a beekeeper. Pest control companies can help you with the rest of stinging insects you encounter.
  • Honey bees are very beneficial, pollinating plants and agriculture. Yellow jackets can be beneficial predators but are a major health concern when in proximity to humans and animals.
  • Most individuals in honey bee hives survive winter. Only queens of yellow jacket colonies overwinter to build a new colony again in the spring.
  • Yellow jacket nests won’t damage a structure and are gray, papery nests typically inside voids, but can sometimes be found hanging. Honey from honey bee hives can cause mold issues if left in a structure and drip for a long period of time. Honey bee hives are comprised of hanging combs.
honey bees

How to Tell if You Have Honey Bees, Yellow Jackets, or Wasps

If you’re unsure of your identification of either yellow jackets or honey bees you have a few options. Take a picture from a safe distance or find some dead individuals laying around if possible. Email us your pictures.

If you’re able to observe from a safe distance or through a window, go online and review pictures. This will help you to decide whether to hire a pest control company or call a beekeeper.

How to Get Rid of Honey Bees, Yellow Jackets, or Wasps

Pest control services will inject a control material into the holes where stinging insects are entering. This material will work very quickly, killing all colony members within a couple days.

If a beekeeper is needed, they will construct a box and direct the honey bees into the space to occupy a honeycomb they have placed within the box. This in itself is an art and left to the experienced beekeeper. Here is a really great video on how that gets accomplished.

If you’re looking for a beekeeper near us, there are resources online to find one.


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