What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?

Bees and wasps look relatively, so what sets them apart and what do they do differently from one another?

Even though they belong to the same insect family, their differences in appearance, diet, and nesting are noticeable. Because of their color, wasps and bees look similar, however wasps have a slimmer appearance while bees are fuller and hairier. Wasps feed their young other arthropods and insects, whereas bees feed on pollen and nectar from flowers. While wasps use paper-like materials made from wood particles and their own saliva, bees construct their nests from wax.

bees landing on a piece of cloth

How can you tell whether it’s a wasp or a bee?

Because they share the same colors, they resemble one another in terms of appearance. However, bees have brownish lines covering their abdomen, whereas wasps have a complex pattern all across their body.

Bees also have a larger body and a rounder abdomen. They have slightly wider wings than wasps, and bees are hairier or fuzzier

Wasps, on the other hand, have a thinner frame and a smaller abdomen. Additionally, their wings are thinner and have a longer cylindrical waist. Wasps don’t have hair and are shinier.

What differentiates a wasp nest from a bee nest?

By closely examining the brickwork, it is simple to distinguish between the two. A wasp’s nest is an oval-shaped gray structure that hangs from a tree or a roof.

Wasp nests have a paper-like texture because they are formed of chewed wood pulp and saliva. Since their diet consists of arthropods and other insects, they are also constructed in sheltered areas with easier access to the outside.

In terms of color and brickwork, a bee’s nest depends on whether the bee has a colony or is solitary. Nest of social bees with colonies have a hexagonal structure and are a brownish yellow color.

The majority of bees are solitary; they inhabit gaps in walls, tubes, or the ground. Furthermore, wasps lack wax glands, which prevents them from producing honeycomb, which is why their nest is gray and paper-like.

bees landing on a beehive

Which is more aggressive? 

Compared to bees, wasps are more aggressive. They are more likely to sting something that poses a threat to them, and they are more likely to sting you suddenly.

Wasps have a reputation for being aggressive because they are more easily provoked than bees. They can sting several times because they get to maintain their stinger.

Because they are extremely territorial, wasps are more aggressive. Wasps will probably attack you if you come close to their nest, and like bees, they can warn other wasps of danger by emitting pheromones.

As opposed to wasps, bees are calmer. Most of the time, bees won’t bother you if you approach their nest, but if you try to disturb it, they will undoubtedly attack you. They can also be aggressive if they lack a colony or a queen.

Neither is aggressive unless necessary, though. Both will attack if you try to provoke them.

Are wasp stings more painful than bee stings?

Undoubtedly, a wasp’s sting hurts more than a bee’s. Wasps have the advantage when it comes to venom, pain, and repeatability, even though both are painful.

Bees use their stingers to deliver the most poison to their target. Their stinger is placed at the end of their abdomen, which is connected to their digestive system.

They produce their venom in their digestive system. Phospholipase and melittin, the two proteins that have an impact on blood clotting, are among the proteins found in bee venom.

Melittin is the main toxin found in bee venom, and it induces inflammation. Because a substance called hyaluronidase dissolves the cell walls, the venom can penetrate the skin and spread the venom.

The symptoms could get worse if the bee stinger is not removed right away since it will continue to inject poison into the skin.

Beekeeper smoking out beehive

On the other hand, compared to bees, wasps inject less poison when they sting.

Antigen 5 is a highly allergenic protein found in the venom of wasps that can cause fatal reactions. In order to distribute the venom, it also includes specific enzymes that dissolve the cell walls.

Serotonin, acetylcholine, and neurotransmitters that can stimulate nerve activity are also present in the venom.

Both venoms can result in swelling or oedema in the sting area. The extent of the effect varies, but in rare instances, a full limb or hand may be affected. Oedema is not usually dangerous until it affects the airway, but it can potentially result in blistering.

Nevertheless, each individual can react to it differently.

The reason why wasps sting is more painful than bees is because they can repeatedly sting their target.

Once a bee stings someone, their stinger becomes stuck to the skin’s surface, pulling out their digestive tract and killing them. Meanwhile, even after stinging someone, wasps still have their stinger intact.

How to treat a wasp or bee sting?

Consult a doctor immediately to receive emergency treatment if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction to bee or wasp stings. Symptoms include skin reactions, hives, breathing problems, nausea, or dizziness.

You can receive treatment at home for common stings that don’t result in an allergic reaction.

For bee stings, the stinger should be removed, and the affected area should be rinsed with mild soap and water.

Apply a cold compress next.

For wasp stings, you can immediately wash the area with mild soap and clean water, then apply a cold compress.

If the pain persists, use a painkiller like ibuprofen. If you were stung on the arm or leg, elevate the affected area. Always keep in mind that scratching the sting area can make your symptoms worse.

Consult a doctor for urgent care if symptoms continue.


Bees and wasps differ a lot from one another based on their habitat, venom, and appearance. Bees have a rounder body, but wasps are more slender. Despite the fact that a wasp’s sting is more unpleasant than a bee’s, both insects should be avoided. Based on their environment, you can distinguish between a wasp and a bee. If you observe a wasp’s nest, it will look like a round, gray balloon. If the nest has a hexagonal construction and is brownish yellow, a bee made it. Even though wasps are more aggressive than bees, it is preferable to stay away from both their habitats.