Frequently Asked Questions About Bees & Wasps

Stinging insects are the source of fear for many people, likely because of our natural aversion to any creature that causes us pain. People who are allergic to bee stings have even more of a reason to be wary of these pests. There are a lot of questions surrounding the existence of these insects, from their populous habitats to their venomous stings. Let’s uncover the answers to some of the most common questions surrounding bees, wasps, and their stinger-wielding cousins.

Which Stinging Insects Are The Most Aggressive?

For the most part, stinging insects will not bother you if you don’t disturb them or their nest first. Once their nest is bothered in any way, the workers alert each other with pheromones (invisible scent chemicals) and swarm the attacker in a cloud of angry insects. Wasps are usually more defensive than bees and are more likely to sting people who get too close. Certain species of wasps are even angrier than the general group, which is why it’s best to use caution around any stinging insect nests you find.

Three of the most aggressive stinging pests in the U.S. are:

  • Yellow Jackets: Known for their extra yellow coloring, yellow jackets are very common in America. They are more aggressive than usual in the fall because it’s harder for them to find food sources when plants and insects begin dying off. They take their frustrations out on anyone who seems like a threat to their nest, often dealing a combination of painful stings and bites to their new enemy.
  • Hornets: Hornets are the most easygoing pests on this list, but they have a mean streak when they feel at all threatened. They don’t seek out people to sting, but once their nest is disturbed, all bets are off. Hornets are vengeful creatures that swarm their attackers and relentlessly sting until the creature leaves. Their stingers are strong enough to reach through thick clothing, so it’s best to avoid hornets at all costs.
  • Paper Wasps: These pests are extremely territorial and aggressive, so anyone who has the misfortune of disturbing their nest is in for a painful experience. Paper wasps are known to rebuild their nests in the same spot if the original is knocked down. They can even attack people who hang out around their nest for too long. Since the painful stings and bites of paper wasps are always the end result, it’s best not to get too close to their nests.

How Is Honey Made?

We enjoy it on our toast and in our tea, but how do honeybees make enough of this sweet stuff to feed them and us? It starts with flower nectar, hence why we see honeybees swarming our flower gardens every spring and summer. They store the collected nectar in their “honey stomach” that’s separate from their digestive system. Back in the hive, the bee spits the nectar into the bee-made cell. The combination of the cell walls and steady fanning of the bee’s wings causes the water to evaporate. This makes the nectar into thick, sweet honey!

Honeybees cover each honey-filled cell with a cap made of beeswax. This protects the honey until it’s eaten. The color and flavor of the honey depends on the type of flower nectar it’s made of, so every batch of honey is different. Honeybees keep their honey throughout the winter as a source of both heat and food. If you’re worried about the ethics of humans eating honey, don’t worry. Healthy honeybee colonies each make over 100 pounds of honey a year, so there’s plenty to spare!

Why Do Bees And Wasps Sting Us?

This might be the most pressing question on the list, but it also has the simplest answer. Bees and wasps sting people because they defend their colonies at all costs. They are equipped with stingers full of venom, which is the main weapon they use against any creatures that threaten their nest or colony.

Despite what cartoons lead us to believe, stinging insects don’t randomly chase people for the fun of it. They won’t attack us unless provoked, though some species are more aggressive than others. Bees are relatively docile and more hesitant to sting us — more on that later — so they often fly around the “enemy” to use their buzzing as an intimidation tactic.

Are Bees And Wasps Dangerous?

For the general population, bees and wasps aren’t dangerous. They sure can deliver some painful stings, but they aren’t the biggest threat we face out in nature. That being said, people who are allergic to bee stings definitely face a certain danger that the rest of us do not. According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, about 2 million people in the U.S. have a bee sting allergy. General allergic reactions result in the standard symptoms, including itching, shortness of breath, swelling, and hives.

A low 1% of bee stings cause anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock. This is the most severe reaction that requires immediate treatment and observation. Anaphylaxis symptoms include:

  • Swelling and tightness of throat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme itching
  • Low blood pressure
  • Stomach pain
  • Irregular heart rate

Anaphylaxis occurs when the person’s immune system releases the chemicals needed to send the body into shock. It is completely treatable, but needs to be addressed immediately. If you or anyone in your home experiences a reaction after a bee or wasp sting, please seek medical attention immediately.

Why Do Bees Die When They Sting Us?

This is a logical explanation as to why bees are more hesitant than wasps to sting us. Technically, honeybees are the only ones that die after stinging someone. It’s all because their stingers are barbed and not smooth, unlike wasps’ stingers. Bee stingers have lancets (sawtoothed blades) that are pointed out. These lancets stick in our skin and prevent the stinger from easily slipping out.

Wasps might not be so aggressive if their smooth stingers didn’t seamlessly slip out of our skin, but we guess we’ll never know. Although they can relentlessly sting us, honeybees endure a living nightmare when they actually sting a person. The honeybee tries to release its stuck stinger, but the stinger stays in place and rips the end off of the bee’s body (gross!). The bee can’t live without its stinger and vital organs, so it dies soon afterward.

What’s The Difference Between Hornets And Yellow Jackets?

Stinging insects are mistaken for each other all the time. When they look as similar as yellow jackets and hornets do, it’s easy to see how that happens. Both pests are types of wasps that deliver painful stings and feed on other insects during their short larval stages. But there are still plenty of differences that are important to note when it comes to identifying these pests.

  • Hornets — While they aren’t nearly as aggressive as yellow jackets, hornets are still not an insect you want to cross. They are technically beneficial since they hunt garden pests to feed to their young. Hornets are also great pollinators for the flowers they visit, but not on the same level as honeybees. They create papery nests out of chewed wood mixed with their saliva, and expand it as their colony grows. Since their stingers are so strong, a sting from the hardworking hornet will definitely leave a mark.
  • Yellow Jackets — Like we said before, yellow jackets are one of the most aggressive stinging pests in the country. They’re also extremely common and are most active in the summer when temperatures are high. Yellow jackets are also called “meat bees” for their habit of hovering near protein, like dog food and turkey sandwiches. When short on food, yellow jackets steal food from beehives and wipe out the whole colony! They are mean, lean, yellow machines that sting and bite anyone who dares come close to their nests hidden along the ground.

Both of these sinister stinging insects are defensive of their colonies, so it’s best to avoid disturbing their nests if you can. Any type of stinging pest problem is best handled by a professional with the right equipment and proper training.

Pointe Treats Wasps And Bees With Ease

Although we don’t eliminate honeybees — they’re essential for the ecosystem, so beekeepers relocate hives for protection — our licensed technicians treat all other types of stinging insects. At Pointe Pest Control, we understand the fear and stress that comes with finding a nest near your home. We have the protective gear and essential equipment to fully treat stinging pest colonies. Our team leaves no part of the invasion untreated, as we remove the nest and carefully treat both the site and the pests themselves to eliminate the whole colony. For more information on our dependable services, contact us today!


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