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Wasps & Bees

Wasps and honey bees are beneficial insects, although they are generally considered to be pests because of their ability to sting. People often mistakenly call all stinging insects “bees.” While both social wasps and bees live in colonies ruled by queens and maintained by workers, they look and behave differently. It is important to distinguish between these insects because different methods may be necessary to control them if they become a nuisance.  

Wasps have a slender body with a narrow waist, slender, cylindrical legs, and appear smoothed-skinned and shiny. Bees are robust-bodied and very hairy compared with wasps. Their hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen. 
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Wasp & Bee Facts

Wasps and honey bees are beneficial insects, although they are generally considered to be pests because of their ability to sting. Wasps, in particular, can become a problem in autumn when they may disrupt many outdoor activities. People often mistakenly call all stinging insects “bees.” While both social wasps and bees live in colonies ruled by queens and maintained by workers, they look and behave differently. It is important to distinguish between these insects because different methods may be necessary to control them if they become a nuisance.


Appearance

Wasps have a slender body with a narrow waist, slender, cylindrical legs, and appear smoothed-skinned and shiny. Bees are robust-bodied and very hairy compared with wasps. Their hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen. Bees are important pollinators. Honey bees are responsible for more than 80% of the pollination required by most fruits, legumes, and vegetable seed plants as well as many ornamentals that are grown in our landscapes.


Nesting sites

Nests are often found under steps, in cracks, foundation of building, bushes and trees, soffits, eaves troughs, and even in the ground.


Wasp and bee stings

Wasps and bees sting to defend themselves or their colony. Stinging involves the injection of protein venom that causes pain and other reactions. Wasps and bumblebees can sting more than once because they are able to pull out their stinger without injury to themselves. If you are stung by a wasp or bumblebee, the stinger is not left in your skin. Most people have only local reactions to wasp and bee stings, although a few may experience more serious allergic reactions.

Wasp & Bee Treatments

Treatment of wasp and bees nests can be done by injecting an insecticide spray or dust into the entrance of the nest. As the wasps and bees move in and out of the nest, move around the nest and clean them, they spread the insecticide throughout the nest and kill off all the inhabitants. The area around the nest should be avoided for an hour or two after treatment as the wasps and bees will be agitated and angry and likely to sting. In order to be treated, the entrance to the nest needs to be obvious, it needs to be unblocked so that the wasps can pick up the dust, and the weather needs to be warm and dry so that the wasps are active and moving around so that they will spread the dust around. Usually one treatment is all that is needed, but if wasps and bees are still active 48 to 72 hours later, then a second treatment is required.

DIY - Do It Yourself Tips

If you need to get rid of wasps and have a wasp nest on your property the easiest and safest option is to have it treated by a professional wasp controller.


Do not block the entrance to wasp nest: they will find another way out (In some cases this could result in wasps chewing through plasterboard and ending up inside your house).


Do not use expanding foam to try and kill a wasp nest: it won’t work and you will just make matters worse.


Do not try and set fire to a wasp nest, blow it up with fireworks, dynamite or any other explosives

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I recognize a wasp?

A: There are several varieties of wasps in Canada, including the yellow jacket, hornet and paper wasp. Colour ranges from black to combinations of black with yellow, white or brown markings. The slim, winged body measures 10 to 15 mm (1/2″ to 3/4″).


Q: What does a bee look like?

A: Bees are characterized by their enlarged hind feet, typically equipped with pollen baskets of stiff hairs for gathering pollen. They usually have a dense coat of feathery hairs on the head and thorax. In many, the lip forms a long tube for sucking nectar.


Q: What should I do if I am stung by a bee?

A: Honey bees leave their sting behind in your skin and this continues to pump venom into you for a few minutes. You should therefore scrape it off straight away with something with a straight edge. Stings hurt for a while and may itch for a few days, but usually there are no serious effects. However, some people can be severely affected, so if you have any symptoms away from the site of the sting or are concerned, particularly if you are having difficulty breathing, seek medical advice straight away.


Q: Are wasps hazardous to humans?

A: Yes. A wasp sting, aside from being very painful can prove serious and sometimes fatal. If you suspect a reaction to a wasp sting seek medical advice immediately.


Q: How many honey bees are there in a colony?

A: At the height of the season an average sized colony can contain 50, 000 bees.


Q: Where do you find wasps?

A: Wasps are social insects and build paper-like nests made from wood fibres and other plant material mixed with saliva. Nests can be found around buildings on verandas, under eaves, ceilings, attics or in trees and shrubs. Several varieties of wasp build nests underground.


Q: Do wasps die off in cold months?

Yes. Only the new queens survive the winter while the rest of the colony dies off when weather becomes cold. The queen overwinters under loose bark or in crevices and lays eggs in the spring to start a new colony.

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