Tag Archives: bees

Identification of Bees, Wasps and Hornets in Illinois

Bees, Wasps and Hornets in Illinois

Bees and wasps, although feared by humans for their stings, are very beneficial to the environment and play a key roll in pollination and insect control.

Honey bees pollinate over half of all fruit and vegetable crops. Wasps are predatory insects that attack and consume many pests that are harmful to these same crops. They are both an important piece of the ecosystem in Illinois.

Related: Why we need bees

In this post, we review the most common types of bees, wasps, and hornets in Illinois and how to identify them.

It can be a challenge for many people to tell the difference between bees and wasps. They are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects, which includes sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants.

Differences between bees and wasps

  • Yellow Jacket Nest in GroundHoney bees are hairy; wasps usually have smooth, shiny skin.
  • Wasps have narrow waists; bees do not have a narrowing of the abdomen.
  • Most bees are about 2.5 centimeters long; wasps are usually longer.
  • Bees may have black or brown bodies with orange or yellow striations. Wasps are brightly colored, with black and yellow patterns.
  • Bees feed nectar and pollen to their young while wasps feed their young insects and spiders.
  •  Yellowjackets and hornets will scavenge for food including fruit, sweets, meats, and carrion.
  • Both bees and wasps can be solitary or live in colonies.

Illinois bees identification

Honey Bees

Honey Bees

  • About 15 mm long
  • Light brown in color
  • Golden yellow bands
  • Tiny hairs on body
  • Live in large colonies of up to 50,000
  •  Lives in cavities of trees, rock formations, and buildings
  • Protected species in Illinois

Bumble BeeBumble Bee

  • 1/2 inch to 1 inch long
  • Buzzing sound
  • Fuzzy black and yellow abdomen
  • Live in old rodent burrows, under porches, and in wall voids.
  • Small colonies of 50-400

Carpenter BeeCarpenter Bees

  • Similar to bumble bee
  • All-black abdomen
  • Solitary
  • Nest in holes chewed in wood

Illinois wasp identification

Paper WaspPaper wasps

  • Very similar in appearance to yellowjackets
  • Black body with yellow markings
  • Slender body with tiny waist
  • Commonly nests on structures
  • Umbrella-like nests hang upside-down from eaves and overhangs
  • Nests can harbor up to 75 wasps

Yellow JacketYellowjackets

  • Aggressive and most likely to sting
  • Smooth and thin body
  • Narrow body and waist
  • Predatory and consumes insects
  • Will feed on human food; attracted to trash and picnics
  • Yellow jackets can sting multiple times

Related: Yellow Jacket Identification and Nest Removal

Illinois Hornet Identification

Here are the Illinois Hornets you will encounter outdoors.

  • Bald Faced Hornet
  • European Hornet
  • Mud Daubers
  • Cicada Killer

Bald faced hornet

Bald Faced Hornet

  • About ¾-inch long
  • Black and white
  • White face
  • Live in paper nest
  • Round oval nest usually hangs from tree branches

European Hornet

European Hornet

  • An inch long or more
  • Reddish brown in color
  • Yellow stripes on the abdomen
  • Nests in trees, attics and wall voids of structures near forested areas

Mud DauberMud Daubers

  • About ¾-inch long
  • Brownish-black with yellow markings
  • Construct tubular nests of mud
  • Hunt spiders to feed young
  • Solitary

Cicada KillerCicada Killer

  • Up to 1.5 inches long
  • Largest wasp in Illinois
  • Mostly black with yellow markings on the abdomen
  • Hunt cicadas in trees to feed young

If you need professional yellow jacket and wasp removal services in the Chicago area, please contact us online or call us (847) 464-1861.


Related information: Illinois Department of Public Health

The DIfferences Between Bees and Wasps

BEES AND WASPS

Though both of these flying insects have 4 wings and can sting, there are many differences between bees and wasps. If you find a hive or nest of these insects in or near your home, do not hesitate to call pest control and have them safely removed.

bees and wasps
Honey Bees

  • Hairy bodies
  • Fat, round bodies
  • Flat, wide legs
  • Some are entirely black; others are black and brown with orange or yellow stripes
  • Have four wings
  • Do not hibernate in the winter, live off reserves and heat from worker bees
  • Produce honey
  • Can sting a human once before they die; can a very soft surface sting multiple times
  • Non-aggressive
  • Social
  • Live in wax hives
  • Sip on nectar and drink water

bees and wasps

Wasps

  • Smooth, shiny skin
  • Waists are narrow
  • Slender legs
  • Bright black and yellow
  • Have four wings
  • Hibernate in the winter
  • Cannot produce honey
  • Can sting a human multiple times
  • Aggressive
  • Can be social or solitary depending on species
  • Live in papery nests
  • Eat other insects like flies, attracted to human food like beer and soda

Why We Need Bees

Bees are declining in population and it can make a huge environmental impact. What exactly would be affected? Just about everything.

we need bees

1. Bees help pollinate crops. They make a huge impact on human food supplies, and without them, it’s argued that famine could be a possibility.

we need bees
2. Bees make honey, beeswax, royal jelly; these products are useful for food, animal use, natural remedies etc. Honey is actually considered more effective at immediate cough relief than many medicines.

we need bees
3. Bees make your food taste good. They help pollinate fruits and vegetables and give them flavor and also help extend their shelf life.

we need bees

4. 1/3 of all vegetables and fruits require bees to pollinate them. Without them, we would be left with bananas and pineapples, among a few others.

we need bees
5. Bees make cotton – Without cotton, there’d be no denim as well. We would not have towels, sheets, cotton for clothes, among many of cotton’s other uses.

we need bees
6. Bees make coffee.  Who wants to live in a world without tea or coffee?!

we need bees
7. Bees make seed for pasture/feed grasses. Without them, there would be nothing for our livestock to eat.

we need bees
8. Bees pollinate flowers and trees – 90% of wild plants would die without them. 70% of cultivated plants would die without them.

we need bees
9. Loss of bees means loss of entire ecosystems. Without them, we lose plant, tree, and animal life.

we need bees
10. Bees are disappearing; their population may be at 50% of what it was in the 1940s. This is huge. Conservationists are working to determine what the root causes are. Pesticides and global warming are considered probable.

If you find bees in your home, please do not kill them. Instead, call pest removal who will safely, effectively remove and relocate them. Bees are important creatures to our ecosystem as a whole. Without them we would lose many of our crops among other plant life and vegetation.