Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Wasp, Bee or Hornet?

While we focus on filling our yards with pollinator plants, it’s good to know who’s buzzing around and occasionally giving us a sting. No more guessing; here are some characteristics to help you distinguish wasps, bees and hornets, all of which belong to the order Hymenoptera. Fun fact: A honeybee produces only 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
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• Smooth body, slender waist

• Waxy, cylindrical legs

• Smaller colonies

• Nest generally made from chewed wood and saliva

• Can sting multiple times, more likely to sting us than bees (only females sting)

• Prey on other insects

Photo © Daniel Prudek / dreamstime.com


• Fuzzy, round, robust body

• Hairy, flat legs

• Big colonies

• Nest made from beeswax

• Honeybees have barbed stinger that sticks in flesh (die when they sting us)

• Interested mostly in pollen/nectar collection

Photo © Melinda Fawver / dreamstime.com


• Actually a type of wasp

• Only one variety — the baldfaced hornet — known to exist in Texas

• Nests high in trees

• Term "hornet" often used incorrectly to describe other wasps

• Less aggressive than other wasps since their nests are more remote

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