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They’re black and yellow, they buzz and fly and they sting. But are they bees or are they wasps? With thousands of species to identify, it can get confusing. And some of these beautiful and important creatures are endangered. So how can you tell if you have bees or wasps? Both are very necessary to the ecosystem.

Size, appearance and aggressiveness

The main differences between the two include size, appearance and aggressiveness. Wasps are naturally more aggressive whereas a honeybee will only attack if provoked. Leave a honeybee alone and it will leave you alone. Both can provide a nasty sting though, so if you can’t decide whether you are dealing with a bee or a wasp, it is best to leave it be.

When looking at a honeybee, you will notice they are hairy and are either black with yellow stripes, orange stripes or are all black. Wasps on the other hand, are smooth, hairless and are generally black and orange or if your lucky enough to come across a European or Asian Paper wasp (stay away!) it’ll be black and yellow. Wasps are also generally longer in length than bees.

They are vital for our ecosystems

Bees are integral to pollinating our plants. Although annoying, we do need them for our ecosystems. If you are interested in helping our bees, try planting lavender or flowering gum trees in your garden (away from your house) to encourage them to your garden. Contact the Bee Keepers Association for more details on how to attract native bees into your garden or check out www.actbeekeepers.asn.au

No matter whether you have found a swarm of honeybees or a nest of wasps, they usually are not a danger to the structural integrity of your home. Their main annoyance is if they sting you, especially if you are allergic or have small children. If you find a swarm of bees in your home, please call the Canberra bee keeping association before contacting a pest controller and have the bees removed by an Apiarist. If you contact us, please note that we will only remove the bee hives if an apiarist cannot remove the bees themselves. We love bees and don’t want to have to destroy their homes unless completely necessary.

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