Category Archives: Honeybee Education

how to tell the level of bees

How To Identify Honeybees

How to Identify Bees from Mimics

Is it a moth? Is it a fly? Or is it just another insect with yellow stripes? Most people are familiar with bees because of their yellow exterior and, of course, the sharp pain of an unforgettable sting that may have sent them to the hospital.

However, given that countless other insects could easily pass off as bees, that line can sometimes become blurry. Here to make it extremely clear again, we’ll delve into the key differences between bees and other insects so you can figure out if it’s time to call in a bee removal expert or an exterminator:

1) Wings and body
Bees have two pairs of wings, to make a total of four, just like many other insects. Flies, on the other hand, have a single pair of two wings. Noticing such subtle differences can be hard for the untrained eye, in which case you need to take a closer look at the insect’s body. Typically, a honey or bumble bee tends to appear a little fuzzy because of its thick hairy coating. This outlook sets it apart from other insects, most notably wasps, which have a thinner coat with little to no hair.

2) Mouthparts
Aside from the standard insect jaws or mandibles, bees have a unique makeup that entails a long tongue geared towards squeezing into nectar confinements. You can notice this well when the bee is standing still and even better when it’s sucking on a flower. It can be a hard feature to pick out, but this distinctive trait sets it apart from the rest of the insects.

3) Legs
Honey and bumblebees have pollen baskets toward the periphery of their tail feet. The basket appears like a concave, hairy swelling, and serves to store pollen collected during foraging. However, it’s useful to note that this feature is unique to female bees, so their absence doesn’t discount the insect as a honeybee or bumblebee.

Insects often confused with honey bees
Now that you are in the know of basic bee physiology, it can also come in handy to be familiar with the mimics often confused with bees. If you have a hard time figuring out whether an insect is a bee, here are a few ideas of what else it could be:

1) Wasps

Their shared yellow and black palette means they are most mistaken for bees. Nonetheless, you can identify wasps by observing their abdomen and thorax. These body parts are smooth and lack hair, unlike bees.

2) Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets are a special kind of wasp that frequents trash cans and leftovers at picnics, and they can easily be taken for bees at first glance. However, a closer look reveals a hairless body and much brighter hues compared to the common bumblebee. Yellowjackets tend to have a more vibrant yellow while bees have a darker, almost black, tone.

3) Flies

Sometimes exceptionally disguised that you’d still be none the otherwise even after these tips herein, flies are notorious bee mimics. Unlike the true bee that has elbowed antennae, flies have a stubby and shorter version that’s usually slimmer. They are so short that they are sometimes invisible to the naked eye. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t see antennae, chances are it’s not a bee.

4) Hoverflies

From their buzz and appearance, hoverflies are excellent bee mimics. It can be hard to distinguish between wing pairs while in flight, but you can detect a hoverfly by its peculiar desire to “hover” above a singular place. A bee flight path is usually less random (moving from one flower to the next) and slower. Additionally, hoverflies can’t sting, although that’s probably not a good test to try out.

Do you have a bee problem you need to worry about?

If you still can’t figure out whether the insects in your home or workplace are bees or not, it’s better to play it safe and bring in a bee removal expert. Delays in solving the matter can create a healthy and safety hazard, and may even lead to legal problems in some states.

Moreover, the continued stay of bees will mean an extensive infestation, which will cost a lot more to tackle. The sooner you deal with it, the better.