Identifying Honey Bees

The honey bee is often confused with other flying insects such as wasps, bumble bees and hornets.  Here are some tips to help clarify the differences.

Honey bees are most often noticed as they visit the flowering plants in the prairie summers.  You may also see them around sources of water as they collect this important resource for their hive.  Honey bees are gentle and will rarely sting when away from their homes.  If a honey bee stings, it is usually to defend itself or its home.  Often confused with wasps and hornets, the honey bee will only sting once after which it will die.  Observing them as they go about their business is a relaxing and intriguing wonder to behold.

beehive, bees, bee keeping

Honey bees live in hive boxes that are maintained by a beekeeper.  Inside these boxes you will find thousands of honey bees working to raise their brood, clean the nest, store pollen and cure nectar to make honey.  Honey bee homes are a busy place!

Definitely Not a Honey Bee!

Wasps & Hornets

There are a number of varieties of wasps and hornets in Manitoba.  They can be very defensive when approaching their hives and can sting many times (unlike a honey bee) when provoked.  Wasp and hornet nests are often found in trees or in and around man made structures.  Some can be underground.  They are more noticeable in the late summer and fall as nests become larger and much more populated in number.  At this time their food sources are beginning to deplete and they begin to interact with humans more as they seek out sources.  Honey bees are most often confused with these insects and it is helpful to know the difference.

Bumble Bees

There are many varieties of bumble bees in Manitoba.  Bumblebees are generally more rounder and larger and have much smaller nests with significantly less bees per nest then the honey bee.  They often nest underground.  In addition to honey bees, they are a vital source of pollination for many of the native plant species in the prairie landscape.

Other Types of Bees

These are but a few of the many hundreds of the species of bees that exist in Manitoba. 

Mason Bee

Leaf Cutter Bee

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