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How to identify the difference between wasps and bees

Key things to look out for

Telling the difference between wasps and bees can be tricky, even if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. By looking for just a few key characteristics though, you’ll be able to correctly identify them.

A common struggle

Wasps and bees are often confused with each other, and if you aren’t overly familiar with them then it’s going to be hard to tell the difference at first glance. We receive a number of calls from concerned home or business owners alerting us to a wasp problem on their property, only for it to be bees – or vice versa. However, the approach that we take with each is very different, so it’s vital that they are correctly identified so that the best course of action can be taken.


Although they look similar, there are a number of subtle differences in appearance between bees and wasps. Wasps have very distinct yellow and black bands around the abdomen, whereas bees have a more muted light brown and yellow colour. Bees are also hairy – this helps them to collect as much pollen as possible. Wasps, on the other hand, have smooth and shiny bodies. A great way to get a closer look is take a picture from a safe distance and then zoom in, minimising your risk of being stung.

Entering a property

Wasps and bees also behave differently when entering your property. So, take some time to look carefully at your brickwork to see if they are going in or out of a single hole or air brick, or using several holes spread out over a wider area.  Wasps will use a single hole, but mortar bees are known to use multiple access points. You should also take note of the weather. Mortar bees are only active on warm, sunny days, and will not be seen when it is cold and overcast.


Another way to identify if you have wasps or bees on your property is by looking at their behaviour. Now, we aren’t recommending that you hang around to see if you get stung – but if you do notice that the insects are very aggressive in passing then it is more likely that you are dealing with wasps. Bees rarely sting, only doing so if they are provoked. Wasps, on the other hand, are highly territorial and defensive, and will not hesitate to sting you.

We’re here to help

Of course, you may not be able to get close enough to tell if you are dealing with bees or wasps – or just want an expert opinion to put any uncertainty to rest. That’s where we come in. We are able to identify whether you have a bee or wasp problem in no time at all – and we can even tell you what kind of bee or wasp is present on your property. We will then be able to determine the most appropriate method of pest control, keeping everyone on your property safe and adhering to all wildlife guidelines.

Find out more today

To find out more about our bee and wasp pest control service, please get in touch with our team today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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"Paul attended quickly and on time to deal with a wasp nest. He gave a professional service and I would highly recommend them."
Peter H - Essex Customer

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