Howard County Beekeepers Association, Inc is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.

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Services > What Kind of Bee is it?

What Kind of Bee is it?

If you see bees, wasps or a nest in or around your home, this identification guide will help you to determine what kind of insect it is and what you can do.  Scroll to view all the items and use the arrows to view all the information for each type. The first page describes the insect, the second describes its nest and what to do if you have them in or around your home.

Thanks to Montgomery County Beekeepers for many of the images and  much of the information on this page!

Honey Bee

  • Are generally amber/brown in color, but some are dark/black.

  • Are hairy!  Note the furriness on the thorax and head in this image.

  • Are often seen carrying pollen on their back leg's "pollen basket". 

  • Are gentle, unless their hive, Queen or self is threatened.

  • Their stinger is barbed, so it can only be used once in defense of their Queen, hive or self - and then the honey bee dies.

  • Are awesome pollinators - you are fortunate to have them around your yard!

  • Feed exclusively on honey made from flower nectar, and on pollen.

Bumble Bee

  • Are yellow with black stripes, sometimes with red tail.

  • Are furry, with long hair, and are approximately 1 inch in length.

  • Are gentle, however, they do have a stinger that is smooth and can be used repeatedly.

  • Live in small cavities in the ground.

  • Are great pollinators and you are lucky to have them around your yard!

Yellow Jacket Wasps

  • Note the yellow legs.

  • Have black and opaque bright yellow stripes. They do not have a lot of hair, so they appear shiny. 

  • These wasps do not carry pollen.

  • Are aggressive, with a smooth stinger that can be used repeatedly.

  • Eat other insects, overripe fruit, sugary drinks, human food and food waste, particularly meat.

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Bald Faced Hornet

  • Are black with ivory white markings, smooth bodied (very little hair).

  • Are aggressive and have stingers that can be used repeatedly.

  • Feed mostly on other insects.

  • Live in large paper nests shaped like upside-down pears usually hanging from branches or eaves.

Paper Wasp

  • Are dusty yellow to dark brown or black, smooth-bodied (very little hair).

  • Some look a bit like yellow jacket wasps, but note the slender abdomen and that the legs are not yellow.

  • Act aggressively at the nest, but it is mostly to keep you away.  They are generally gentle but will act to defend their nest. 

  • Paper wasps have stingers that can be used repeatedly.

  • They eat mostly other insects.

  • They live in small umbrella-shaped papery combs hanging horizontally in protected spaces such as attics, eaves or soil cavities.

European Hornet

  • Are quite large and are brown to reddish-brown with a yellow abdomen.

  • Act aggressively at the nest, but mostly to keep you away.  Generally, act in defense of the nest and self.  

  • Feed mostly on insects, including honey bees.

  • Have stingers that can be used repeatedly.

  • Live in a paper nest mostly in sheltered and protected areas, such as inside trees, attics, etc. 

  • Because of their size, they have been referred to as 'tracker-jackers' and giant yellow jackets (but note that they do not have yellow legs, so they are not a yellow jacket wasp!).