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How to Tell the Difference Between Bee Nests and Wasp Nests

If you’ve stumbled upon a bee or wasp nest on your property and aren’t sure which, sometimes, finding out whether it’s a beehive or wasp nest will determine the action you need to take. Each species builds different nests, so here’s a breakdown of how to recognize one from the other.

What Bee Nests Look Like:

honeybee nest swarm

Bee nests, or beehives, are easily distinguishable from wasp nests, because bees will swarm around their hive. Usually there are so many bees buzzing around, the hive itself isn’t visible.

Honey bees build wax honeycombs, usually in hollow trees or in the walls of homes. Bumble bees have similar wax honeycombs, but prefer spaces and openings like doorways, under eavestroughs, abandoned mice burrows or empty logs.

Both species of bees will make a new nest each year after the colony dies out and the queen finds a new place to settle. The good news is that neither type of bee is aggressive – they only sting when attacked or provoked. So if you’ve found a beehive, and it isn’t in a high-traffic area on your property, it might be best to just let them be.

What Wasp Nests Look Like:

Wasp nests are a different story. They can be as small as a golf ball or as large as a football, and can be high up in trees or buried in the ground.

Yellow Jacket and Hornet Nests
paper wasp nest extermination

Yellow jackets and hornets are two types of wasps that are aggressive and eager to sting. Yellow jacket and hornet nests are dangerous and should be removed carefully by professionals. Yellow jackets build their nests out of wood fibers and saliva, making a papery skin to protect the combs. They can be in the ground in abandoned mouse burrows, in shrubs, trees, attics, under eaves, or in wall openings or holes. Generally they only have one opening for the wasps to enter and exit. Hornet nests have paper-like appearances, except the combs are built wide and have multiple entry points.

Mud Daubers and Paper Wasps

These two types of wasps are less aggressive than yellow jackets or hornets.
Paper wasps build the same kind of paper nest as yellow jackets and hornets, but prefer horizontal surfaces to hang them from, like tree limbs, eavestroughs, overhangs, and support beams of garages, sheds, barns, and attics. This species of wasp will only sting when provoked or to protect the hive, so removing it could depend on its location and size.

Mud daubers are the least hostile species of wasp, as they are solitary and don’t protect their nest like social wasps do. It’s very rare for a mud dauber to sting and will only do so if mishandled. They use mud to cover the cylindrical combs (or tubes, depending on the species of mud dauber) that hang from eaves or other hard, vertical surfaces. This species poses little to no threat to humans or pets.

If you find a bee or a wasp nest in your yard, watch it for at least ten minutes to determine if it is still active. If you don’t see any movement, it is likely an abandoned nest from a previous year. If you do see insects coming and going, you’re dealing with an active nest. Do not attempt wasp nest removal without the proper tools and gear. Calling a pest control company immediately is highly recommended.

Magical Pest Control offers free quotes if you need assistance. We are happy to answer any questions you have about bee or wasp nest removal. Call us at (905) 738-6676 or fill out a contact form to schedule an appointment.

One thought on “How to Tell the Difference Between Bee Nests and Wasp Nests

  1. I had an active wasp nest in my Garage this year we didn’t disturb it but now I have discovered it is attached to my Xmas Tree!! it appears dead is it ok to remove it ? if so how ?

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