Bee Nest Vs. Wasp Nest (Secret To Telling The Difference!)

bees nest vs wasp nest

Bees and wasps are both stinging insects that can be troublesome in your yard.

It’s no fun having large numbers of buzzing insects close to your living space! 

But you need to know which insect you are dealing with to decide what action is necessary to handle the problem. 

That means identifying the type of nest, whether it’s a bee hive or a wasp nest.

Remember, people can be allergic to honey bees and wasp venom (maybe without knowing it). Therefore, nuisance nests should be removed as a safety precaution.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know…

How Do You Know If It’s A Bee Or Wasp Nest?

Bees are smaller than wasps and build large nests with parallel lobes of honeycomb. The nest will be filled with a large number of bees. Wasp nests have lower populations but can sting repeatedly. Their nests are single oval structures with an opening at the bottom.

The two structures really are pretty different when you see the finished nests. Below we’ll get into more detail about each one, so you can quickly identify them and find a solution.

If you notice a steady stream of flying critters heading to the eaves of your roof or disappearing under your deck, you probably have a nest of these bugs in your home or yard.

Are these insects bees or wasps? The answer to this question is essential since it determines your options and how to do something about sharing your living space with them!

So what is the difference between a beehive and a wasp nest?

How Do I Identify A Bees Nest?

Bees and wasps have similar coloration, especially when you only see a black-and-yellow blur fly past you! So it’s time to jump up from your pool lounger, follow the critter to see where it goes, and look closer to identify the offending insect!

The first part of identifying a bee’s nest or, more accurately, a bee hive is scrutinizing the insects coming and going from the nest.

This method will be the first step since the hive is only sometimes visible. For example, it may be hidden behind paneling or inside a wall cavity.

A bee has a distinctive shape that differs from a wasp. A bee’s abdomen is barrel-shaped and connected directly to the thorax and head. It does not have a constriction or thin section between the thorax and abdomen common to many wasps.

The abdomen and thorax appear to be joined directly, and there will be fine hairs on the bee’s body.

what does a bee look like
How to identify a bee

Activity around the nest entrance is usually more lively for a bees nest than a wasp nest. If you observe, you may see bees arriving at the entrance with yellow or orange pollen attached to their hind legs. Wasps do not collect pollen and return it to the nest.

If you get to see inside the nest, you will see parallel lobes of white, yellow, or dark yellow, brownish honeycomb hanging from the top of the hive.

There should be many thousands of bees clinging to the comb or walking around, attending to the larvae.

how to identify a bees nest
Identifying a bees nest

If you can see into the hive, you are probably too close and should back off to a safe distance. Bees do not like the hive’s entrance being approached by large animals, such as people. So it can send them into attack mode to defend the colony.

What Should You Do If You Have A Bees Nest

Bees are highly protective of the beehive and the colony and will consider a close approach or tampering with the hive a severe threat to their safety.

Any action to remove the bee’s nest will result in an attack by the bees. They can attack in their thousands, which can pose a life-and-death situation for any people or pets nearby, whether they are allergic to bee stings or not.

The best action is to contact a local beekeeper to safely remove and relocate the colony. To find a beekeeper, you can search for local beekeeping associations. These associations will have a list of beekeepers near you that provide bee removal services.

Will A Bees Nest Go Away On Its Own?

Bees will sometimes abandon a nest site if the position of the nest becomes unsuitable or the nest is too exposed to the elements or threats.

It is unusual for a bee colony to abandon a nest site that they like and meets their needs. They are even less likely to leave the nest if they have brood (eggs and larvae) in the comb. 

Bees do not move on after the breeding season but will continue to live in the nest for many years if the location is suitable.

Even if the nest site becomes too small for the colony, the colony will split, with some bees moving off to find a new location. But other bees will remain to rebuild a new colony.

Should I Leave A Bees Nest Alone?

If you notice a bee’s nest, you should not try to remove it yourself, but you should also not leave the bees in their current location. 

The colony will continue to grow and build a larger and larger nest, which may cause more damage to your house or pose more of a threat to you, your family, and your neighbors.

Contact a professional bee remover to come and assess the situation as soon as possible.

What Does A Wasp Nest Look Like?

Not only do wasp nests look different from bee’s nests, but the wasps themselves look different from bees, even when the colors are similar.

All wasps have a bulbous abdomen, which tapers in at the waist before it joins the thorax. Wasps’ legs are generally longer than a bee’s, and they have less hair on their bodies.

what does a wasp look like
How to identify a wasp

Paper wasps are a relatively uniform brown color, with a cream-colored stripe around the abdomen.

Larger wasps, such as yellow jackets, have alternating yellow and black stripes on their bodies, making them look similar to bees.

Wasps can nest in the ground, create a nest hanging from under your roof eaves, or utilize the space in wall cavities to build a nest. Paper wasps build a nest that usually hangs vertically from a structure above, such as an overhanging roof beam. The nests look like they are made from rough paper and have a dirty-white color.

what does a wasp nest look like
Identifying a wasp nest

Paper wasp nests are usually visible and not built in cavities.

Yellow jackets make a hanging nest that is oval in shape, tapering to a single entrance at the bottom of the nest. The structure of the nest also looks like an off-white, papery material.

Should You Remove A Wasp Nest?

Even though wasps’ nests have fewer numbers than bees, wasps can repeatedly sting, unlike bees that die once they sting people.

Nevertheless, during the peak of summer, some species of wasps can develop pretty large colonies!

Please don’t underestimate the danger of a wasp nest because it does not look like there are many wasps. Wasps are as protective of the nests as bees and will attack if you come close or they feel threatened.

Suppose the wasps are located on your property where they are not bothering people or pets. In that case, they can be left alone until their breeding season ends.

If the nest is causing you concern, you should call a professional to remove it rather than attempt to do the job yourself.

You could be allergic to wasp venom without knowing it, and a single sting can trigger a fatal allergic reaction.

Will Wasps Come Back If You Destroy The Nest?

If the wasps’ nest is destroyed at night with all the wasps in it, they will not return to the site. However, if the nest is destroyed during the day while some wasps are out foraging, they will return to the nest site in the evening.

The remaining wasps may try to rebuild the nest, but in most cases, they will move on to another location. If the wasps were a social species with a queen, they would die without the queen to lay eggs and reproduce.

How Long Does A Wasp Nest Stay Active?

Some wasp nests can stay active for 3 or 4 months, while others can last an entire summer season. They raise their young, then disperse for the winter till the following season, unlike bees that will overwinter in the nest.

Note: If the wasps’ nest is not removed in the winter, the wasps will return in the following season to try and use the site again. If you’ve been waiting to act, winter is the time to have the nest removed.

What To Do if You See Wasps Building A Nest

If you notice wasps showing interest in an area around your home or have started building a nest, quick action can stop them from getting further.

A spray bottle filled with water and 5 to 10 drops of peppermint oil mixed in the water and sprayed around the area will cause the wasps to leave or abandon construction.

Make sure you are well protected with thick clothing from head to toe before you try this tactic to get the wasps to leave!


Bees and wasps are valuable creatures in the natural world, but they can become pests when they invade your personal space.

The best course of action when you notice a bee or wasp nest on your property is to call a professional to remove the nest properly and safely.

Wanna be a beekeeper but not sure where to start?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *