Difference Between Honeybees and Wasps
Honeybees and wasps belong to the same insect order — Hymenoptera. Ants belong to this order too, so they are related to bees and wasps. There are more than 100,000 species in this order and more than 15,000 in North America.
A few bees and wasps do not sting. However, many of the species that come near homes and businesses do sting. For many people, a bee or wasp sting hurts for a few minutes. However, for some people, these stings cause a serious allergic reaction. A few people die from these stings each year.
Wasps have a straight needle-like stinger. They can sting over and over. Honeybees have a barbed stinger. The stinger and the venom sac stay in the skin of the victim. The honeybee can only sting once, but the stinger keeps injecting venom until it is removed.
Scientists identify bees and wasps by examining parts of their bodies under a magnifying glass or a microscope. A casual observer can make a good guess based on their general appearance. Most bees, including honeybees, seem to have “fuzzy” or “hairy” bodies. Wasps seem to have smooth bodies without much hair.
The kind of hair that they have makes bees and wasps look different. Wasps actually have slender, straight hairs on their bodies. Bees have hairs that resemble plumes or feathers. Each hair on a bee’s body has several branches. The shape of the hair makes the bee’s hairs look thicker and fuller. This gives the bees their “hairy” or “fuzzy” appearance.
Diet is a major difference between bees and wasps. All bees and wasps eat sweets and proteins. The sweets that wasps eat are normally nectar, honeydew, and the juices of fruits.
Honeybees eat some of the nectar that they gather. They also use their honey as a sweet food. They store the honey during the summer and eat it during the winter.
Bees and wasps also use different protein foods. Wasps gather insects and spiders for their protein food. They place an insect in a cell or chamber with an egg. When the egg hatches, the immature wasp will find the insect. The wasp larva eats the insect as it develops.
Bees use pollen as their protein food. Honeybees mix pollen with nectar to make a substance that people call “bee bread”. The workers feed this to the immature bees as they develop. Some people value this “bee bread” because they think it will give them the same level of energy as it gives the bees. Adult bees eat pollen when they emerge from their larva stage. Scientists think that the pollen helps complete the bee’s development.