Difference Between Yellow Jacket and Bee

Yellow Jacket vs Bee

Yellow jacket and bee are almost identical hymenopterans in their external appearances; especially they are more like honeybees than the other bees. Therefore, understanding the particular differences between yellow jacket and honeybee would be beneficial. This article provides summarized descriptions about both of these hymenopteran groups and presents some of the most important and interesting characteristics that enable to identify one from the other.

Yellow Jacket

Yellow jackets are primarily the members of the Family: Vespidae in general and any species of the two particular genera known as Vespula and Dolichovespula. The name yellow jacket is more commonly used in North America to refer these hymenopterans, while the general term wasp is used in most of the other parts of the world. There are certain specialities in these insects with regard to their morphological features as well as some behavioural aspects. The yellow jacket females can be dangerous to anyone disturbingly stay in their path as they all have stinging apparatus attached to the ovipositors. The appearance of the yellow jackets mostly resembles that of a honey bee with small body size and yellow colour bands on the abdomen. However, they do have neither tan-brown hairs on their body nor the pollen basket on their hind legs, and those are important to notice to identify. In addition, the flying patterns could be important as an identification characteristic, because the yellow jackets start to move sideways rapidly just before landing. Yellow jackets are seriously aggressive and predatory insects; hence, they are dangerous as well as beneficial for the farmers in pest controlling. They are in fact very nasty attackers with the capability of stinging the prey repeatedly. However, they could be a nuisance when their prey species become scarce, as they get attracted to meaty or sugary domestic foods.


Honeybees belong to the Genus: Apis, which contains seven distinctive species with 44 subspecies. There are three main groups of honeybees within the seven species. Honeybees originated in South and South-East Asian region and now they are widespread. Their sting present in the abdomen is the major weapon for protection. They have been evolved to attack using their deadly stings on other insects with a thicker cuticle. The barbs on the sting are helpful in penetrating the cuticle during attacking. However, if bees attack a mammal, the presence of barbs is not vital, as the mammalian skin is not as thick as in the chitinous cuticle of insects. During the stinging process, the sting detach from the body leaving the abdomen damaged severely. Soon after a stinging, the bee dies, meaning they die to protect their resources. Even after the bee has been detached from the skin of victim, the sting apparatus keeps delivering the venom. Honeybees, like most of the insects, communicate through chemicals, and the visual signals are predominant in foraging. Their famed Bee Waggle Dance describes the direction and distance to the food source in an attractive way. Their hairy hind legs form a corbicular, aka pollen basket, to carry pollen to feed the young. Beeswax and bee honey are important in many ways for the man and, therefore, beekeeping has been a main agricultural practice among people. Naturally, they like to make their nests or hives underneath a strong branch of a tree or inside caves.


What is the difference between Yellow Jacket and Bee?

• Yellow jackets are a type of wasps while bees belong to another subdivision of the Order: Hymenoptera.

• Bees have a tan-brown cover of hair over their bodies but not in yellow jackets.

• Bees have a pollen basket to carry pollen but not in yellow jackets.

• Bees die after one attack from the sting, but yellow jackets can sting repeatedly.

• Bees have barbs around the sting apparatus but not in yellow jackets.

• Yellow jackets are more aggressive than bees.

• Yellow jackets feed on either sugar or meat, while bees mainly feed on sugary nectar of flowers.

• Waggle dances are predominantly common in bees compared to yellow jackets.

• Yellow jackets rapidly move sideways while flying before landing, but bees do not usually show such behaviours.

• The legs could be observed while a yellow jacket is in flight but not in bees.