What is this bee/wasp nest?

Perhaps this is a tropical wasp. Can you identify it? Is it artificial?

This is likely a honeycomb created by some species of honey bee.

A beekeeper (Jessie Brown) from New Mexico shared to her blog the following photos of a "free form" bee hive some of her bees created:

Photo credit: Nina Dubois

In that instance (as well as the one mentioned here and pictured below), the beekeeper moved some "burr comb" to a new location and the bees used that moved remnant piece to build a mound-like comb.

Photo credit: Phillip Cairns

Bee, wasp or hornet nest: Which one is it?

Before you go about destroying a nest, you need to determine whether it is a nest of bees, wasps or hornets.

A honey bee. Note the hairs on its body. Photo by Lesley Ingram,

A common question we get on the Michigan State University Extension Lawn and Garden Hotline (888-678-3464) is how to get rid of a bees&rsquo nest. When we ask for a description of the nest or the &ldquobee,&rdquo we receive a description for a wasp. Why does this even matter? It is important to know that bees are different insects than hornets or wasps. While all of these species have their own important role and place within the ecosystem, native bees are especially important for pollination services that provide much of our food, food for wildlife, and beauty in the landscape.

Is it a bee, wasp or hornet?

A European paper wasp. Note the smooth body. Photo by David Cappaert,

Why are bees, hornets and wasps so often confused? Maybe it is the fact they all buzz and many of us associate that sound with bees. They also all defend their territory by stinging. Many of us fail to appreciate the wide diversity of insect species that exist. Whatever the reason, it is important to properly distinguish what buzzing critter has built a nest so we can help you assess what steps to take in the best interest of both humans and the critter.

Although it may not be easy to snap a photo of the buzzing insect, a picture is ideal. You can share the photo with the hotline staff or upload it to the Ask an Expert resource for proper identification. Check out MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics Insects and Arthropods for photos to help you determine the difference between bees, hornets and wasps.

Where is the nest?

Do you know there are over 450 native bee pollinators in Michigan and over 2,000 in the United States? They all provide very important pollination services for our food sources and they need our help in providing habitat, food and water for them. Some bee species are solitary they don&rsquot swarm and rarely sting, as they do not need to protect a queen. They will nest in cavities of wood, hollow stems or the ground, so it is important to provide these diverse habitats. Think about ways to include these undisturbed areas within your gardens and landscapes.

Holes made by ground-nesting bees. Photo by Nathanial Walton, MSU Extension. Cavity-nesting bees. Photo by Nathanial Walton, MSU Extension.

Wasps and hornets often create their nests in areas that interfere with our daily human travel, such as building a paper nest under a house eave. If they feel threatened, hornets and wasps will defend their territory by repeatedly stinging. Interestingly, hornets and wasps are also predatory insects, preying upon other insects, bees included, and eating them.

How to get rid of the nest

Once you&rsquove correctly determined that it&rsquos a wasps&rsquo or hornets&rsquo nest, decide whether the nest will create any safety concerns for humans. If it will, then it&rsquos best to properly deal with the nest as explained in MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics Insects and Arthropods for each species. Also, check out this great article below from MSU entomologist Howard Russell. Always remember to read and follow all pesticide labels.

Sometimes wildlife such as skunks or raccoons may do the job of removal for you as well. Check out the accompanying photo of a yellowjackets&rsquo nest that was ripped open by a skunk. The following night, the skunk came back and finished the job.

A yellowjacket nest destroyed by a skunk. Photo by Nathanial Walton, MSU Extension.


Generally, bees, wasps, and hornets do not sting unless handled, disturbed, threatened, or harmed.

Wasps sting to defend themselves, to subdue prey to feed their developing larvae, or to defend their nests

Due to their barbed stingers, honey bees sting only once and die because they leave their stingers in the victims’ skin.

Wasps can sting more than once because they have a lance-like stinger without barbs thus wasps are able to pull out their stinger without injury to themselves.

Only female wasps and bees have stingers.

When they sting, wasps and bees inject venomous fluid that creates allergic reactions to sensitive people. Individual response to a sting may vary from a brief swelling of the immediate area of the sting to a more severe, and potentially fatal, allergic response involving the entire body.

It is estimated that close to 100 people die annually in the United States from the reactions produced by wasp and bee stings.

How to differentiate between bee and wasp nest?

To the untrained eye, the wasp nest and the bee nest might look similar if you are not paying attention. Bees and wasps are closely related species and diverged from wasps about 120 million years ago. Wasps are known as pollen gatherers. Hornets and yellow jackets are known to be social wasps because they live in colonies together made from a paper-like material. There are many key differences between a wasps nest and between a bee nest. But even among wasps, some differences exist depending on the species that build them. Take for example the Mud-Dauber wasp. This wasp builds its nest from a combination of mud and salvia. It is completely opposite of the paper wasp which owes its name to the paper-like material that the wasp uses to make their nest out of.

If you suspect a carpenter bee presence anywhere near or on your property, contact wasp nest removal Toronto for quick and safe removal.

If you notice or suspect any wasp or bee presence near your property, contact a reputable pest control service to remove the nest safely and efficiently. The technicians are licensed individuals that are trained and experienced in the removal of nests as well as wasps or bees. This can avoid bodily harm to you and the ones around you.

On to the identifying part of the nests. If you see an open nest that looks exposed, and you see hexagonal cells ( a shape with eight sides), that is shaped like an umbrella, then you can be certain that you are dealing with paper wasps here. Their number is quite low when you take bees into consideration. Paper wasp colonies often number less than a hundred wasps.

If you see a nest that has smooth walls and is shaped like a football, then you can be sure that hornets are living in them. People should be wary of hornets because these species have the tendency to deliver incredibly painful stings. The Giant Asian Hornet for example is a hornet that is native to Japan and has spread to many other Asian countries such as Thailand and China. A colony was first spotted in British Colombia, Vancouver in 2019. These hornets are incredibly aggressive and have made the bumblebee their most wanted prey on their list. Hornets have the tendency to attack a single prey in groups multiple times. Annually about 50 people die in Japan from these stings.

If you see a wasp going in and out of a hole in the ground or a building, that you can be certain that the wasp you are seeing is a yellow jacket. The yellow jacket houses a colony of about a thousand wasps.

If you see a nest that seems to be made out of a waxy substance then you are looking at a bee nest. Social bees such as the bumblebee and the one bee construct their nests with similar material, so distinguishing between the two is not always an easy task. However, depending on where you see these nests, might give you a strong clue with what kind of bee you are dealing with. The bumblebee nest is smaller in size and they are usually located and build in abandoned rodent dens, sheds, grass, or trees. Honeybee nests are most likely to be built inside of a company or protected area that can shield them from other predators or the elements. These nests can be located in a hollow tree, inside a wall, or for human use inside of beekeeper boxes. Their nests are also a feat of engineering by having them made highly organized and hexagonally shaped. Call The Exterminators – Pest Control Toronto for professional services.

Bald-faced hornets commonly build aerial nests in trees. The exterior of the nest has a shaggy appearance, protecting the cells containing developing young and eggs. The nest consists of several tiers of comb covered by a round, paper casing with an entrance at the bottom. If you see an off white ball with a hole at the bottom hanging from a tall tree branch, odds are you have a bald faced hornet nest.

They are typically located about 10 to 20 feet high in tree, although they may be built on the sides of houses. The nest structure grows rapidly since workers continually add to the paper nest as the population grows. As fall approaches, colonies produce males and new queens, which leave the nest to mate. Newly mated queens burrow into the ground where they spend the winter. The workers, males, and the old queen perish in the fall. Nests are not reused.

Please note, bald faced hornets are a very aggressive, dangerous species. Take extreme caution if you are near a bald faced hornet nest.

Polisties, or paper wasps are the other common aerial nesting species. Polisties wasps create small paper nests that are often found on the eaves of homes. Polisties wasps are generally not aggressive and can generally be left alone.

Preventing Wasp Nests

Removing wasp nests isn’t a sustainable way to keep them out of your property. These insects will always rebuild or replace damaged nests. So, what do you do? This is an important question we’ll provide answers to.

There are several ways to prevent or keep wasps from building their nests. These include planting wasp repellent plants around your home and porch area, removing sources of food around the porch, and always keeping doors and windows shut.

Additional tips on keeping wasps from building their nests include picking up trash, frequently checking for nests, and covering compost piles and garbage cans.

We’ll proceed to briefly expand on each of these nest-building preventive strategies as follows

Planting Wasp Repellent Plants Around your Home

One of the natural ways you can keep wasps from building nests around your home is by planting wasp repellent plants. Now, wasps are good pollinators and will easily get attracted to flowers.

However, instead of flowering plants, consider planting wasp deterrent plants.

These plants serve to protect your home from wasp presence. Examples of wasp repellent plants include geranium, wormwood, pennyroyal, marigold, basil, and mint.

The mere presence and scent of these plants will mark your territory as hostile to wasps. As such, no nests are built.

Removing Sources of Food Around Porch

Whenever you see wasps flying around your home, there are likely food sources around. This leads them to build their nests close to such areas to be close enough to their food.

Examples of foods that wasps find appealing include berries as well as rotten or ripe fruits.

Additional food sources include bird feeders which are too close to your building. Consider moving these as far back as possible to prevent wasps from congregating and building their nests next to this food source.

Pet food should not be left outside for long.

Keeping Doors and Windows Shut

Is this even possible? Keeping your doors and windows continually shut? That isn’t what we mean by keeping your doors and windows shut at all times. Consider installing screens on all windows and doors.

These ensure your windows are opened wide while the wasps are kept from entering indoors due to the protection offered by the screens.

You also want to inspect all openings and outer walls for cracks and crevices which can be used as nesting spots. These should be sealed off completely.

Picking up Trash

As long as there are perceived food sources, wasps will always be present. Now, such food sources will include food eaten by you or anyone else. This may be in the form of crumbs or leftover drinks.

Whatever it is, wasps shouldn’t find any food source or trash to make them stay back or build their nests close by.

Frequently Checking for Nests

While taking preventive measures to check wasp nest-building activities, also consider to frequently check for nests.

New nests may be springing up steadily as long as the condition remains favorable. So, while adopting the above preventive actions, also actively check for nests and remove any you find.

Checking and removing a wasp nest is easier said than done. There’s a significant risk of drawing attention wasps. They easily identify you as a threat when you get too close. What happens next may not end well.

So, your best bet is to seek professional assistance in getting rid of wasp nests. There are lots of reputable pest control services ready to offer their expertise to address this problem. Knowing where to check is also important.

Cavities, sheds, and garages among others are common places to find wasp nests. These will have to be flushed out by a professional. You may end up endangering yourself if you decide to proceed with the wasp nest removal.

Covering Compost Piles and Garbage Cans

Some of the common food sources include compost piles and garbage cans. There’s an ample supply of rotting substances in such areas. When properly covered, wasps find it hard to feed on them.

Covering all Ground Holes

As long as there’s a hole on the ground, solitary wasps are likely to attempt to build their nests in such places.

Therefore whether these holes are on concrete or not, you’ll need to seal them up to foreclose such a possibility.

Many nests are found in loft spaces, wall cavities, accessed by airbricks and garden sheds. Care should be taken when opening up children’s wendy houses and children’s garden sheds and ‘houses’, as wasps nests may be located in them too. You may also find nests have been built in garden walls, or underground in rabbit burrows or other underground mammals’ dwellings.

German wasps that are prevalent in the UK often build nests in trees, hedgerows and bushes. You may also find wasps are drawn to certain trees in your garden if it gives out a sweet, sticky sap (the type that makes a mess on your car!) later in the summer. As wasps natural prey (spiders, insects etc.) dwindle in numbers late in summer they are drawn to sticky sap as an alternative.

Some properties are just more suitable for wasps’ nests than others and so may have reoccurring problems.


Wasps are generally seen as a benefit to the environment. As predatory flying insects, wasps are a great source of organic pest control on gardens, farms, and crops. Wasps are not domesticated humans typically dont work with wasps like they do honeybees and stingless bees.

Commonly two types of wasps species exist: Solitary wasps and Social wasps. Social wasps live in large numbers. Wasp nests are abandoned in late autumn, the queens individually over-winter until spring. Wasps eat meaty things, including spiders and sweets. Wasps can be more hot-tempered than bees, they are to be treated with caution.

If you’re trying to eliminate nuisance wasps attached to your home or near an entryway, it is best done at sunset or very early in the morning. Wasps found inside the house may indicate a nest is living in the chimney or attic. How to get rid of bees. Below are pictures, identification, and habitat info, of common species of wasps that live within the U.S.

Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are sometimes called meat bees, sweet bees, or ground bees. Often mistaken for honeybees, yellow jackets are a little quicker, more slender, and are brighter yellow vs. the orange color  of honeybees. Yellow jackets do not forage on flowers, and do not carry yellow pollen  on the back of the legs. Yellow jackets can also be identified by a rapid side to side flight pattern prior to landing. They make great scavengers, eating meats, sweets. Yellow jackets are occasionally found in parks disrupting picnics or other events.

Nesting & aggression
The entry of a yellow jacket nest is a golf ball to softball size hole in the ground. yellow jackets defended their home very aggressively. Yellow jackets can sting repeatedly, they do not lose their stinger like a honeybee does  , and thus do not die after stinging. Stings often cause a swelling reaction followed by itching for a few days. Like wasps & bees, yellow jackets sting only in defense or by accident. Nests start out very small during springtime, then growing larger toward winter. Colonies can reach a large size size of 4,000 and 5,000 workers by August or early September. At wintertime nests are abandoned, then in the spring, individual queens commonly return to areas nearby to survive their species.

Occasionally yellow jackets nest in wall voids and attics, they can end up by accident in the house in large numbers. This is usually preceded by a noticeable slow growing wet spot on the ceiling caused by the yellow jacket nest. Every so often, a curious homeowner will poke or push their finger right through the deteriorating wall and end up with the unfortunate surprise of getting stung or chased. Buzzing from the nest can often be heard in the wall, though that would more commonly be a beehive. It’s generally considered unwise to try DIY bee removal on an active yellowjacket nest, hornet nest, or beehive without experience. Learn more regarding how to keep bees away.

Unlike honeybees that live year round, yellowjackets abandon their nest by late autumn. Yellowjackets like wasps, hornets, bumblebees, and carpenter bees, all abandon the nest by late autumn. During winter Yellowjacket queens will often hibernate structural voids and in attics until early spring. If you have un-wanted yellow jackets in your attic, to discourage them returning, in the winter you can put up some chemical cards labeled for yellowjackets. If you need help call the bee removal hotline.


Hornets or bald faced hornets are commonly identified as black with white stripes, and also as black with yellow stripes. A hornet may look similar to the shorter, more slender yellow jacket, hornets being near twice as long as a yellowjacket and also thicker/more bulky then a yellowjacket . Like yellowjackes, hornets are not fuzzy they are shiny. Hornets may behave slightly less aggressive than yellow jackets. Hornets and wasps can sting multiple times having a painful sting.

Hornets build randomly shaped nests from football to basket-ball or larger in size. Hornets can be found on tree branches, hallows, bushes, as well as houses and buildings, within attics and wall voids. When attached to a structure, or located in a problematic area Bee removal is commonly desired. Like most wasps and bees, hornets are defensive to anything within a close distance to the hive, or nest.

Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are long with yellow and rusty brown or black stripes. Paper wasp nests can be identified out in the open and under the eave structure of the roof-line.Nests a gray paper-like material honeycomb shaped, with larger nest sizes approaching the size of a tennis racket containing up to 50 wasps per nest. Paper wasps can be confused with hornets being similar in shape & size, though hornets typically have much larger hives and build nests within enclosed structures as well as non-structurally.

Paper wasps are often found hanging under the eaves, though also found in attics, trees. Paper wasps attack when the nest is disturbed or aggravated, they have a painful sting paper wasps can sting multiple times and do not lose their stinger, same as most wasps though unlike honeybees that can loose the stinger.

Occasionally paper wasps are found inside the house. This happens when a nest is living in the attic, they end up lost and inside the house perhaps though a ceiling fixture were light is entering into the attic. In this case the wasp goes to the light planning to get back outside though ends up in the house once inside wasps can navigate much better then honeybees, Wasps will typically hover around looking for an exit, while honeybees simply head strait toward the window or light.

Mud Wasps

As shown above, three common types of Mud Wasps exist: mud daubers, potter wasps, and pollen wasps. These mud wasps construct their homes from mud and clay. They are also a health form of organic pest control to gardens and crops. Mud wasp species are typically found in surrounding areas of each other. Mud wasps commonly nest on walls, in attics, under bridges, and in the ground.

Mud wasps are solitary wasps varying in size from 1/2 inch to 1-inch with relatively small nests. Prior to winter they abandon the mud nest, overwintering until spring time. At springtime mud wasps (like most wasps) often return to places of familiarity to build nests and carry on their species.

Mud Daubers

Mud daubers have a very compressed alien like look with a skinny needle like waist, they are sometimes called thread wasps or dirt daubers. Mud daubers are commonly identified by their hardened oval and tube shaped mud nests. Mud daubers nests rang from the size of a small peanut to the width of lemon.

The mud dauber species seldom sting and are not protective of their nests. Mud daubers typically attach under eaves, porches, walls and attics. Mud daubers prey on all types of spiders including black widows.

Potter Wasp

Sometimes called mason wasps, potter wasps build pot like or jug shaped nests smaller than a lemon. Of all wasp species in existence, potter wasps have the largest diversity of species classified into some two hundred groups as shown in wikipedia: potter wasp species.

Pollen Wasp

Pollen wasps are actually similar to many solitary bees. Feed their young entirely on nectar and pollen from flowers. Pollen wasps are sometimes mistaken for yellow jackets because of size similarity and because they burrow nests in the ground however pollen wasps can be identified by their large clubbed antennas and are much less aggressive. Rocks or crevices low to the earth make attractive nesting sites for pollen wasps.

Bee Id Chart

Sometimes wasps are mistaken for bees. Visit this bee identification chart to learn about the most common types of bees. Many types of bee species exist.

Ways to protect your vehicle

Ditch the sugar

Bees are attracted to sugar, says DeAngelis. So, a simple way to keep bees out of your vehicle is to keep the interior clean and remove any empty bottles, cans, and candy wrappers. It’s also important to inspect your vehicle’s exterior and surrounding area in case there was a sugary product that spilled on or near your car.

Consider where you park

Another suggestion is to re-evaluate where you park your vehicle. Sometimes bees will find their way inside your car simply because their nest is located near the garage, driveway, or another area where you park it.

This is also true of wasps. Per DeAngelis, wasps tend to build nests at the corners of houses, as well as in fencing, trees, and bushes that might be on your property.

Try a different air freshener scent

In addition, avoid using floral-scented air fresheners in your car, recommends DeAngelis. As you might expect, bees gravitate toward certain fragrances, especially sweet-smelling ones.

Identifying Bees, Hornets and Wasps

Most people may see a wasp and mistake it for a hornet or may even believe that all species of bees create honey. Bees, hornets, and wasps are similar but also play very different roles in the ecosystem. Since these creatures are often confused with each other, understanding their behaviors is the best way of telling them apart.


All bees have an oval or round shaped body that is sectioned into three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen.

Physical Features and Characteristics of Bees

There are over 20,000 species of bees, and they can be found in every continent except for Antarctica all bees have an oval or round shaped body that is sectioned into three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Bees have two sets of wings: forewings and hindwings the forewings are the bigger of the two sets of wings and are used for flight, while the hind wings are primarily for cooling the colony.

Whether bees produce honey or not, they are all typically characterized by bright colors like yellow or gold. The carpenter bee, for example, is black and yellow, while the honey bee is a brown or golden color. Carpenter bees may sometime be confused with yellow jackets however, carpenter bees have a larger hairier body where yellow jackets are slimmer and have little to no hair.

Honey bees do not get any bigger than a paper clip and do not hibernate in the winter. Instead, they cluster together for warmth and feed on the nectar they have foraged through the summer. The typical life span of a worker bee is about three weeks, but queen bees live at least 12 months and can live up to 4 years. Bees are herbivores and have a diet of mostly nectar and pollen but are prey to other flying insects like hornets as well.

They are between an inch and an inch and a half with dark colored bodies and white or brown stripes on their abdomen.

Physical Features and Characteristics of Hornets

There are about 20 species of hornets, the majority of which can be found in Asia but also exist in North America, Europe, and Africa. Hornets closely resemble Yellow Jackets and are even in the same family Vespidae. They are between an inch and an inch and a half with dark colored bodies and white or brown stripes on their abdomen.

Hornets are social insects that build a nest which can accommodate as many as 1,000 hornets and consists of workers, drones and queen hornets. The sterile female workers feed and protect the entire hive. They prey on flies, gnats, bees, and other small insects, but also eat tree sap as well. A hive has at least two queens but can have up to five or more, the male hornets do not sting and exist primarily to eat and reproduce.

Hornets have an average life span of about 20-30 days and the queen lives for about 12 months. In winter the queen hornets take the remaining young and make their homes in hollowed out trees or in people’s houses. The queens survive to the next year to build the new hive and lay the eggs that become the future colony.

They can be red, brown, metallic blue and yellow with the brighter colored wasps being from the Vespidae family.

Physical Features and Characteristics of Wasps

You can find wasps in every continent except the Artic and in many assortments of colors and sizes. They can be red, brown, metallic blue and yellow with the brighter colored wasps being from the Vespidae family. Wasps are often most confused with hornets, while the black and yellow wasp may be confused with bumble bees. However, bumblebees have shorter legs and rounder bodies, and more hair as opposed to wasps who are thinner with little or no hair.

Wasps are omnivorous and eat ants, caterpillars, flies, bees, and nectar from flowers. They are slender and have a thin petiole that separates their thorax and abdomen. Wasps can be either solitary or social social wasps build nests and hunt for the entire colony as opposed to a solitary wasp which would only build a nest large enough to support its offspring.

Social wasps are very aggressive and territorial and may sting if they believe their nest is threatened. Solitary wasps, however, are not as territorial and though they may sting are not as apt to. Take caution whenever faced with any type of wasp as their sting does have a small amount of venom and multiple stings could prove to be deadly to anyone.

  • Declining Bee Population
  • Best Bee Repellents
  • Best Bee Sprays

Watch the video: Wasp Nests and Bee Hives (December 2021).