Why bees (and other insects) are important
Bees, wasps and most little flying insects are a very important part of our ecosystem. Even though we can’t see them in action as
clearly as we see the huge combines and tractors that work in fields, these little creatures are a valuable component of agriculture.
Without their efforts, the majority of our food wouldn’t grow. It is due to the pollinating efforts of these little guys, moving of pollen
from one flower and fertilizing another, that fruits and vegetables grow. So each little insect should be treated with care and respect,
even if they do get mad and sting sometimes.
The basic differences between wasps and bees
Honey bees are typically what we all imagine when we think of bees but there are actually over 300 types of bees that call Alberta
home. With this many varieties, it can be easy to mistake them for wasps or hornets. Knowing some basic differences can be
useful in knowing how to treat and deal with them since wasps can be a bit more aggressive, while bees are a bit more docile.
Wasps and a few kind of bees can also sting multiple times, whereas honey bees can only sting you once and die soon after.
But either way, it’s important to stay vigilant and clear of nests when moving in areas that could house wasps and bees.
Some of the main differences between bees and wasps are how fuzzy they are, the size of their legs and bodies,
and the appearance of their nests.
Although wasps can have a bit of fuzz too, bees typically have fuzzier legs and bodies than wasps (especially bumblebees!).
This is because bees rely on pollen as a food source and the extra fuzz catches and allows them to collect more pollen.
Wasps also live on nectar but they rely on other protein sources like bugs and even human food as well (so covering your
snacks is good thing to remember when picnicking outside).
Bees also have thicker legs and bodies than wasps. The thin, sleek body of wasps allows them to fly more efficiently and
make them more lethal in catching and killing their prey.
Wasps and honey bees both build nests but wasp nests have a grayish and papery look and are often build under eaves of
houses, sheds, or garages. Honey bee hives however, look more golden and waxy and can often be found in trees, walls,
or buildings. If you find one, especially in high traffic areas of your property, you can find more information on how to deal
with a swarm of bees or nests on your property.
We are definitely not the experts when it comes to bees, so if you want to see the 9 main genus types of bees check out
this Bee Identification Guide by the Edmonton and Area Land Trust.