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Depending on who you ask, there are between several hundred and several hundred thousand species of bees and wasps throughout the world. Both belong to the scientific order Hymenoptera, the same classification as ants. Bees and wasps play a variety of vital economic roles and represent serious health threats to many individuals. Their possible health and safety threat is what typically inspires a phone call to a bee or wasp removal company.
There are a few essential differences between a wasp and a bee. Most wasps, feed on insects, spiders and other animal matter. Most bees, on the other hand, feed on pollen and nectar (although there are a few parasitic species of bee). Bees are nearly always “hairy” with short legs, which assists in their pollen-collecting activity. Wasps, on the other hand, typically have smooth, slender bodies that are “pinched” at the waist and have longer legs than bees.
A bee nest is typically composed of wax cells whereas an average wasp nest consists of a papery material. Either wasps’ or bees’ nests can be found in trees, the ground, wall cavities, building eaves virtually any supportive, crevice-like structure will do. Depending on the species, bees and wasps either live in social colonies are have a solitary nesting behavior. Nest removal is an important part of wasp or bee extermination. Not only can some wasps re-occupy a vacant nest, the presence of honeycombs from honeybees can attract a variety of other pest infestations.
Although they don’t typically attack unless threatened, both wasps and most bees inject a venom upon stinging, which can cause serious and even fatal consequence for allergic individuals. Wasps are generally more aggressive, have a more painful sting, and can typically sting multiple times whereas normally a bee stings only once. If a social wasp or honeybee is killed within approximately 15 feet of its nest, a chemical alarm signals a threat that may incite an attack by the colony.
Bees Waggle Dance Most species of bees are pollinators, gathering and distributing pollen while bringing it, along with nectar, to their young. In addition to assisting nature in pollination activities, many bees are also highly prized for their honey and wax production.
The most economically significant group of bees is that of the honeybee. These small creatures not only produce substantial amounts of honey, they are also estimated to pollinate a significant portion of the global food supply. Because of their recent population decline, European honey bee removal is a sensitive subject. It is generally advised to contact a local bee keeper to remove the nests, as they will provide a new home for the offenders. When honey bee nests are located within a home or other structure – especially if they pose a health or safety risk – a bee control company may need to intervene.
In the United States, bee control is most often necessary for the removal of Africanized honeybees and carpenter bees. Africanized honeybees (also called “killer bees” due to a number of fatal human attacks) are much more aggressive than European honeybees and are of significant concern to individuals whose health or safety may be threatened. While other strains of honey bees often only attack if a nest is disturbed, Africanized honeybees will attack animals or humans detected within 100 feet of their nest. They also tend to displace other strains of bees within the area. These bees are found primarily in the southern and coastal areas of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Georgia. Aside from their distinct behavior, Africanized honeybees are similar to other honey bees in appearance although they are typically smaller than their more gentle counterparts.
Bumble bees feed on nectar and live socially. Like honeybees, they are helpful pollinators. The primary differences are those of physical presence and nesting behavior. Bumble bees are larger, rounder and “fuzzier” than honeybees; they also tend to nest in much smaller numbers than honeybees. Also like honeybees, they are not typically aggressive; however, they do not have a barbed stinger, therefore can sting multiple times whereas a honeybee generally cannot.
Carpenter bees are a non-social bee that nests by boring long tunnels into wood, often causing damage to wooden structures. Although they don’t technically colonize, female carpenter bees will frequently nest alongside each other. Nesting in wood of the same structure or nearby site, they divide their tunnels into cells where bee larvae are tended to and developed individually. Carpenter bees resemble bumble bees – large, fuzzy, black and yellow – but their bottom half is hairless. Some species of carpenter bees are completely black, green or even purple, and these also tend to have bare bottoms.
Aside from fig wasps, whose presence is necessary for this fruit’s development, most wasps play a small role in pollination. Nearly all wasps are both predators and parasites. They occasionally feed on pollen, nectar or the bodily fluids of prey. Most species will either sting and paralyze other insects, arthropods or grubs and place them within the nest to feed young; others will paralyze the host and lay their eggs within it. (The hatching larvae then feed from the inside out.)
They may not be high-volume pollinators, but the unique habits of wasps provide a great natural pest control service as they prey on other potential pests. The farming industry has benefited from wasps, purposefully introducing some species to their crops to prey on boll weevils, caterpillars and grubs. Likewise, the study of wasp venom has contributed much to medical research and is being used in drug development studies.
Despite some of their potential benefits, most wasps aren’t highly revered when they nest in areas occupied by people. The most dangerous stinging wasps are from the family Vespidae. “Vespid” wasps include paper wasps, yellow jackets and hornets. They can be identified primarily by the lengthwise folding of their wings when resting; they also hold their wings separate and lengthwise to their body. These social insects are found throughout the United States and are typically most active in warmer weather. They can live in either paper-like nests that are visible, or in ground nests that are more difficult to detect (an unfortunate situation for anyone who unknowingly stumbles upon the nest).
Most people are surprised to learn that velvet ants are actually solitary wasps. Although the male velvet ant has wings, their female counterparts do not. This enables them to infiltrate and lay eggs in underground bee and wasp nests, where their young will feed on the native larvae. Velvet ants have a painful sting and are known to emit a high-pitched squeaking sound when threatened.
CALL ALPHA ECOLOGICAL TO SOLVE YOUR WASP PROBLEM SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY.
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