Bumble Bee, Honey Bee or Wasp

What’s the Difference?


BUMBLE BEE                          HONEY BEE                                WASP


  • There are over 250 known species
  • Thick and furry body. Fat all around with yellow, orange, and/or black colouring.
  • Thick wings visible when landed.
  • Various sizes from 2-5cm.
  • Small nests of 5-500 members.
  • Bumblebees do not produce a honey surplus like honeybees.
  • Queens are the only bee to overwinter in hibernation.
  • Bumblebees are not aggressive and will only sting when the hive is threatened.
  • Bumblebee nests should be left undisturbed until the winter months when they will die out naturally.

For more information about Bumble Bees go to: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/


  • Honey bees represent only a small fraction of 20,000 known species of bees.
  • Small body, fuzzy torso, sleek abdomen, and thin wings.
  • About 2.5cm in length
  • Colonies can contain 25000 bees.
  • Play a major role in pollination of flowers and crops.
  • Can sting only once, but the males cannot sting
  • Produce a honey comb and honey surplus
  • Large portion of the colony overwinters with the queen
  • Honeybees are generally calm and unaggressive
  • The large number of bees in a swarm can make people anxious.  Trying to ‘scare- them off’ makes the bees feel threatened and is not advisable.
  • The removal of a honey bee swarm is best done by a beekeeper. For anyone wishing to report a swarm, please call the Swarm Coordinator, Diane Bruce, on 01923 775943 or email diane@westhertsbees.org.uk.  Alternatively, you may search the British Beekeepers’ Association website for other registered swarm collectors in the area.


  • There are solitary wasps and social wasps
  • Social wasps exist in colonies numbering up to several thousand and build nests of chewed wood.
  • They can sting more than once.
  • They have few or no thickened hairs (in contrast to bees).
  • They are predators – mostly on other insects.
  • The vast majority of wasps play no role in pollination,
  • Although mainly carnivorous, they will steal nectar if they can by raiding honey bee colonies.
  • Only the queen survives the winter. For this reason wasps take longer to establish themselves in the spring.

Published: November 2014  Last updated: June 2016