Hornets vs. Bees – How You Can Tell The Difference

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Most of the time, when others look at a hornet, they compare it to a bee. And it makes sense because hornets and bees seem like they have the same structure. But when it comes right down to it, these two creatures are totally different – from what they eat to how they build their nests.

To put it simply, Hornets vs. Bees cannot be more interesting as a topic when it comes to controlling the insects that go in and out of your home.

Hornets Vs. Bees – Find Out What Really Stung You!

Hornets are bigger than bees. They’re also more intimidating because they can sting multiple times.

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Differences in Appearance

Bees and hornets may look like the same flying insects you see outside, but they actually have different body structures.

If you examine at a bee closely, it’s generally rounder than a hornet. It has hairy and thick black legs. Its abdomen looks bulkier, and its head and thorax look more circular because they’re covered with hair.

Most bees look the same. They’re darker than hornets. And they only look like they have yellow in them because of all the visible hair covering their bodies. This gives them their trademark fuzzy look.

Hornets, on the other hand, have homeowners confused on what they really look like. That’s because they get mistaken for yellowjackets and other wasps, insects that are classified in the same family as them but are still completely different.

Now to identify if what you’re dealing with is a hornet, note that these bugs are mostly bigger than their wasp cousins. They’re 5 times the size of honey bees. They’re even called wasps on steroids on account of how huge they are.

They look more pointy and streamlined, even though they’re a lot fatter in the middle compared to other wasps. Their abdomens are more cylindrical. And, they have smooth and thin legs that usually come in a combination of red, yellow or black.

These bugs don’t have a lot of visible hair covering their body, so this gives each species clearly defined colors. The Oriental Hornet, for example, is mostly red all over with a thick yellow stripe on its abdomen. Meanwhile, the European Hornet has a red-orange head, black and yellow striped abdomen and red-orange legs.

Differences in Feeding Habits

When it comes to what they eat, there’s a huge difference between the bee and the wasp.

According to Diffen, bees are pollinators. They fly around consuming and collecting nectar and pollen. So you can mostly see them in areas with gardens and fields that offer a good assortment of flowers.

These insects also drink water, and they can even be found consuming other sweet things like candy bars and commercial honey which are actually dangerous for them since these products may contain bacteria that they’re not immune to.

Meanwhile, hornets are mostly predators. They can be flexible and consume animal meat, nectar, sugary snacks and fallen fruits, but they’re more inclined to preying on other insects like caterpillars and flies.

Differences in Stings

bee stinging

When these two insects are threatened or when you go near their nests, they use poisons at the end of their abdomens to defend themselves.

One way to tell if you’ve been stung by a honey bee is when it dies automatically after the act of stinging. These bees can only sting you once, and they die shortly after. That’s because a stinging honey bee leaves a part of its body behind. It abandons not only its stinger but also muscles, nerves and parts of its abdomen and digestive tract. It’s important to note though that only honey bees do this.

In contrast, hornets have no qualms with stinging you multiple times. These predators can become aggressive when they’re provoked. But rest assured that these giants only attack when they absolutely need to.

Differences in How They Live

This video from SciShow tells us major tips in being able to differentiate a wasp or hornet nest from a beehive.

Honey bees live inside a hive, in a colony of over 40,000 members and a single queen. Their beehives don’t really have a uniform shape, it can be elongated, circular or a completely deformed structure that hangs from a tree branch. It’s also covered with worker bees, so it looks more like a clump of these insects than an actual nest.

Bees can build their hives in rock formations, hollow trees, caves and even inside holes on the roof, depending on how suitable the place is in raising a colony.

Inside, a beehive has a honeycomb. This is a matrix of golden yellow hexagonal cells that are made up of beeswax, a wax secreted by the honey bees themselves. These cells are where they keep their food, eggs, larvae and pupae.

For hornets, they don’t have wax producing glands that bees have, so their nest is the result of wood pulp and mud scraped and pasted together to form a papery structure. It’s usually colored grey and in the shape of a football or a downward cone with holes at the bottom.

A colony of hornets only number up to a few thousands. The workers don’t usually spend their time outside clinging to the nest. They’re usually quiet and prefer not to be disturbed.

So for the undying topic: hornets vs. bees, we hope that this cleared a few things up. These two insects may differ in so many ways, but they’re the same when it comes to being a part of nature. And if you handle them carefully, you won’t get stung!

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