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Know thy insects; wasps, hornets and honey bees


Wasps and bees

Wasps and bees are both members of the Hymenoptera order of insects. However, their physical bodies are different. In general, wasps can be distinguished from bees by their lack of body hair and thinner, elongated bodies. Bees are hairier, while wasps usually have smooth and shiny skin.

Wasps and hornets

Wasps and hornets have similar hairless bodies, and are both types of Vespid wasps. The major difference between wasp and hornets is size and colour. Wasps are about one-third of an inch to one inch long. Hornets are larger. Wasps have black and yellow rings, while hornets have black and white rings. While bees can sting only once and die after attacking, a single wasp or hornet is capable of stinging multiple times.

Wasps and hornets cannot produce honey, but all species of honey bees are capable of producing and storing sizeable amounts of honey within their hives.

Where do they live?

The areas surrounding houses provide a number of ideal homes for bees, wasps and hornets. Some of these areas include verandas, ceilings, attics, walls, trees and shrubs. They will find holes and small burrows and set up nests, because holes and burrows are often near food sources (such as fallen fruit, flowers or nectar-producing plants).

How to prevent wasps and hornets from circling your garden?

Both wasps and hornets are attracted to sweet foods and decaying materials so eliminate any posible food sources, except for a sugar-based trap that you may have hanging.

Know the bees 

There are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world. The most common are honey bees, carpenter bees, and bumble bees. The big producers are the honeybees, who have much larger hives than other bees and are able to communicate amongst one another to help them complete their honey gathering work.

How to attract bees to your garden

Most gardeners are familiar with the vital role bees and other pollinators play in a healthy and productive garden. But their importance touches our lives every day. Did you know that one out of every three bites of your food depends on a pollinator? Over 150 crops grown in North America depend on pollinators, including apples, almonds, blueberries, citrus, melons, pears, plums, pumpkins and squash.

How Gardeners Can Help

Every home gardener can take steps to increase food and encourage an ideal habitat for bees. Creating diverse plantings, and keeping a garden with a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through to late fall.

To attract the full spectrum of pollinators, choose plants of various heights, including flowering trees and shrubs, and those with a range of flower shapes and sizes.

Flowers that Bees Love

  • Alyssum
  • Agastache (anise hyssop)
  • Asclepias (butterfly weed)
  • Aster
  • Echinacea (coneflower)
  • Geranium (cranesbill)
  • Monarda (bee balm)
  • Papaver (poppies)
  • Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)
  • Trifolium (clover)

Tip: Perfectly neat yards do not provide the raw materials wild bees need to construct their nests. Let your garden grow a bit wild! Provide a good nesting habitat by preserving a small brush pile, areas with dry grasses and reeds, and dead wood.

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