Although they may share similar traits, appearance and habits, it’s easy to confuse the difference between wasps, bees and hornets.

 

Bees

Bees can be easily identified through the following traits:

  • Have a wide and hairy body.
  • They are also known as super pollinators of the world. They actually support 87% of the food crops globally.
  • Mostly sting only once.

 

Common Species of Bees in Singapore

Giant Honey Bee (Apis dorsata)

Giant Honey Bee (Apis dorsata)

Red and Black Dwarf Honey Bee (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis)

Red and Black Dwarf Honey Bee (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis)

Asian Honey Bee (Apis cerana)

Stingless Bee (Tetragonula spp.)

 

Wasps and Hornets

Wasps and hornets are the ones that are commonly confused for one another due to their similar hairless body features.

However, there are two major differences that distinguish them from each other:

Wasps

  • Body: Slender with a narrow waist
  • Size: Smaller
  • Nest: Smaller
  • Sting multiple times

Hornets

  • Body: Rounder
  • Size: Larger
  • Nest: Larger
  • Sting multiple times

 

Common Species of Wasps and Hornets in Singapore

Pear-tailed potter wasp (Delta pyriforme)

Pear-tailed potter wasp

Banded paper wasp (Polistes sagittarius)

Banded paper wasp

Greater banded hornet (Vespa tropica)

Greater banded hornet (Vespa tropica)

Yellow-vented hornet (Vespa analis)

Yellow-vented hornet (Vespa analis)

Lesser Banded hornet (Vespa affinis)

Lesser Banded hornet (Vespa affinis)

 

Life Cycle & Habits

Bees, wasps and hornets undergo complete metaporphosis, from an egg, larvae, pupae to adult.

This process involves four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The egg is laid by the adult female and hatches into a larva, which is a worm-like stage that feeds voraciously to grow and develop. Once the larva reaches its full size, it enters the pupal stage, during which it undergoes a dramatic transformation inside a protective cocoon or chrysalis. During this stage, the insect’s body tissues and organs are completely reorganized, and it emerges as a fully developed adult with wings, legs, and other characteristic features of its species.

While bees, wasps, and hornets all undergo complete metamorphosis, they have different feeding habits and ecological roles. Bees are known for their crucial role in pollination, as they feed on pollen and nectar from flowers. Pollen provides them with protein, while nectar is a source of carbohydrates. As bees move from flower to flower to collect food, they inadvertently transfer pollen grains, facilitating the reproduction of plants. This mutualistic relationship between bees and flowering plants is essential for maintaining biodiversity and ensuring food security, as many crops depend on bee pollination.

On the other hand, wasps and hornets have a more diverse diet and are often considered scavengers. They feed on a variety of food sources, including other insects, leftover human food, and decaying fruits. Many wasp and hornet species are predatory and hunt other insects to feed their larvae. They play a vital role in controlling insect populations, as they often prey on caterpillars, flies, and other potential pests. Some wasps, such as yellow jackets, are attracted to sugary substances and can be found foraging on overripe fruit or sweet drinks.

It’s important to note that while wasps and hornets are often seen as aggressive and dangerous, they generally only sting when they feel threatened or when defending their nests. Many wasp and hornet species are solitary and do not live in large colonies like some bees do. However, social wasps and hornets, such as paper wasps and European hornets, do form colonies and can become defensive when their nests are disturbed.

Management & Prevention

Wasps and bees will build nests in the same places each year if the sites are considered good and favourable to them. They are often noticeable around sources of sugar, such as orchards with fallen fruit and outdoor activities where soda and juice are available. Covered garbage containers are recommended to reduce wasp foraging.

To reduce the attractiveness of trash containers or hoses, power-wash them with soapy

water each time they are emptied, or at least once a week. Replace broken and missing dumpster and trash can lids and keep them closed. Enclose waste in good-quality, sealed bags to prevent spills. Wash down milk crates after delivery of milk or soda if they are left outside since wasps are attracted to residues from these liquids.

Additionally, old wood structures, unpainted furniture, cardboard, wood chips, and dead trees or limbs are attractive to paper-nest-building wasps as they collect wood fibre for nest construction. If wasps are a risk to people in the area, remove dead limbs or paint the furniture and exposed wood to discourage wasps. It may be necessary to create some kind of barrier if this behaviour is common enough to cause damage to valuable trees and shrubs. The crushed bodies of nest mates are also attractive to wasps, due to the release of alarm pheromones. It is wise to avoid crushing large-colony wasps.

Using a pole, a hose with a powerful nozzle, or a power washer, remove visible paper-wasp nests from eaves and structures regularly. Painted or varnished surfaces may discourage paper-wasp nesting.

 

Pest Control in Singapore

Currently, we are practising integrated pest management in Singapore, which is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to managing pests, especially for wasps and hornets. Before taking any pest control action, it is important to contact exterminating services in Singapore to accurately identify the pest as the control decision may vary according to species.

After pest identification, inspection and monitoring will be carried out to determine the extent and status of pest infestation in the area or on-site. Decisions are to be made based on the pest species, the extent of the infestation, available control measures, areas to be treated, etc. Customers must be educated on the basic biology of the targeted pest and the importance of sanitation by a local pest control expert in Singapore. Once the control measure is decided, treatment will be carried out. Regular follow-ups will be conducted by pest control services to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment conducted.