Why are killer bees so called

Wasps, bumblebees, bees: who is who?

June 21, 2016 Animals

When something black and yellow buzzes through the air, panic often breaks out in the outdoor swimming pool and on garden terraces. Is it a wasp? Or even a hornet? In any case, you should keep calm. Here's why:

It hums particularly loudly: the bumblebee

There are different types of bumblebees. Most of them wear black and yellow fur. At first glance, because of their color, they resemble bees or wasps. But bumblebees are much larger and they fly very comfortably. You can recognize them well by that.

When a bumblebee buzzes over the picnic blanket, the question often arises: Can bumblebees sting? Yes, the females can sting. But they usually don't care about people at all. Unlike wasps, they are not after your picnic either, so they usually disappear quickly. Bumblebees are pollinators and fly from flower to flower. You see them quite often because they can also be on the mowed meadows. There are often clover blossoms there.

What wasps like

Wasps are believed to be the main reason many people fear black and yellow insects. Because unlike bumblebees or bees, they get in people's way more often. The reason is that wasps like a lot of what humans eat too. Above all, they are attracted to sweet things - for example juice, cake or ice cream. But it can also happen that you head for grilled sausages or steaks. Because wasps also eat meat.

Wasps are often mistaken for bees. However, wasps are smaller and slimmer than bees and have no hair. In addition, they are more agile than a bee in flight.

If you ask around to see who has been stung by bees or wasps, you will likely hear more reports about wasp stings than about bee or even hornet stings. This is because humans and wasps often meet in a confined space. If the insects feel threatened in this situation, they sting. It's best to stay calm, especially when a wasp is buzzing around you. And look carefully if you eat something outside in the summer. You should cover sweet drinks.

If you do get stung, it is usually not dangerous. However, stitches in the respiratory tract can be dangerous. Because the sting swells and can lead to shortness of breath. And people with an allergy to insect bites are at risk! Anyone who knows about an allergy should always have an antidote with them to be on the safe side.

Even if they are rather unpopular with humans, wasps play an important role in nature. For example, they help to get rid of carrion. And they catch many other insects, such as flies, beetle larvae or aphids. This is of great help to farmers and gardeners.

The smallest pet in the world: the honey bee

The honey bee is probably the best-known type of bee in our country. In addition to honey bees, there are several hundred wild bee species in Germany. Beekeepers keep and care for honey bee colonies in so-called beehives in order to obtain honey. In some cases, they are also used specifically to pollinate fruit blossoms. A colony of bees can pollinate around three million fruit blossoms in one day!

Bees are hairy like bumblebees, but not as strong. They are also significantly smaller than bumblebees. Compared to wasps, bees are more plump and fly more slowly.

Bees can sting, and their sting can be very uncomfortable for people. As with the wasp, the sting is usually not dangerous. But be careful: bee stings are also a danger if you are allergic to them or if they hit the airways.

Just like wasps, bees only sting when they want to defend themselves. This happens less often because bees usually only target flowers - and not the food on the picnic blanket.

The flying artists: hover flies

Hoverflies appear dangerous at first sight because of their black and yellow pattern and are often confused with wasps. However, they only "camouflage" themselves and can neither sting nor bite!

There are many different species of hoverflies that grow in different sizes. Some are almost as big as wasps and bees. You can easily recognize hoverflies by their flight behavior: They are very fast and often move a little "jerkily". For a few moments they float silently in the air, and then rush off in a flash. If you manage to observe them in peace, you can also recognize them by their wings. Unlike wasps and bees, they only have two, like all species of flies.

Hornets: the rare relatives of the wasps

When people talk about insect bites, hornets are often mentioned. Many people consider them particularly dangerous. However, that is not true. Hornet venom is no more toxic than that of bees or wasps. However, because of the nature of the poison and the larger sting, a sting can be perceived as more painful.

As with wasps and bees, hornets only sting when they feel threatened! They never attack for no reason.

Hornets have also become very rare. If you come across one, you will recognize it: hornets are a species of wasp and look similar to wasps. However, they are twice as big!

The black and yellow pattern looks dangerous, but it's just a trick: hoverflies can't sting. (Photo: Kuhnmi / flickr.com/ CC BY 2.0)